He's not a criminal; he's an outlaw ["Man on Wire"]
If I die..." Philippe Petit said, "what a beautiful death, to die in the exercise of your passion."
In August 1974, Phillipe Petit illegally strung a cable between the Twin Towers and tightrope walked back and forth several times. Could this be more profound - this trifle that happened shortly after the Twin Towers were born - than the madness that felled these two buildings September 2001?
Petit did not die tightrope walking between the Twin Towers. He did get arrested, but essentially that did not stick. Petit took a meticulously and secretly planned stroll between what were, briefly, the tallest buildings in the world.
To its credit, the documentary "Man on Wire" has nothing to say about September 11th. It has nothing to say about cities outdoing other cities, building tallest buildings in the world.
See "Man on Wire" to experience Philippe Petit. He was an engaging man-child more than 30 years ago. He is similarly compelling being interviewed for this film. There are moving pictures from the days of his more mundane balancing.
There are moving pictures chronicling his most famous 15 minutes.
An inordinate amount of planning and several other players were necessary to pull off this absurd crime of the century. To try to make "Man on Wire" a fully textured and titillating documentary, the film constructed something like a caper film with details and reenactments and interviews about a puzzling band of brothers. The film weaves forgiveably long.
Petit embodies the romanticism of grand triviality like no other. This is reason enough to see "Man on Wire."
As a tribute to him, I will conclude with one of my favorite exchanges in the history of movies, from "Steelyard Blues," between Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda.