Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as the real life high-wire artist Philippe Petit. Photo Credit: Sony Classic Pictures
Beautiful and Risky, ‘The Walk’ is a Visual Spectacle
Viewing The Walk in 3D and the IMAX is an exhilarating movie-going experience similar to Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, in which Tom Cruise shimmies up the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa Tower, a 160-story building in Dubai, using sticky gloves and shoes similar to Spider-Man. To be clear, The Walk is not a based on a comic book character or an exaggerated special agent tale; the story is based on true, documented eyewitness facts that occurred on August 7, 1974.
Director Robert Zemeckis “goes boldly where no man has gone before.” We are given an unprecedented up-close and personal look at the astonishing feat preformed by high-wire artist Philippe Petit. You see, for six and half years, while living in France and making several trips to New York City to plan his coup, Petit, at the age of twenty-four and acting with a group of friends and accomplices, plotted his dream of walking on a wire across the space between New York City’s World Trade Center Twin Towers or, as he calls it, “the void.”
Just before dawn, his team illegally rigged a wire a quarter-mile high and 200 feet across from the corners of the Twin Towers. He did not simply walk across; he entertained the crowd that had gathered or, in his mind, his audience. For forty-five minutes, he remained on the wire in “the void.” Crossing a total of eight times, the artist gave his performance during which he laid down flat on the wire, he knelt, he turned, he moved his body in sweeping motions similar to a ballet dancer’s, he laughed, he smiled, and he proudly bowed. As described by New York City police officer in the Academy Award winning documentary Man on Wire (2008), “I observed the ‘tight rope dancer’ because you really couldn’t call him a walker. He was halfway between the two towers when he smiled and laughed.”
Yep, this is the stuff Hollywood movies are made of: pure magic. What strikes a chord with me is the fact that due to Zemeckis’ cinematography and the building of the story, when Petit is on the wire near the end of the film for only about twenty minutes, that very sequence is worth the price of the IMAX /3D admission. I’ll go back again for a second viewing, probably not three times as I did for Avatar, but these are the types of films that I particularly enjoy. All was forgiven at the end of the film as the first half does drag a bit, but is nonetheless important for the development of the back-story. The re-creation of the high-wire acts and the circus tents of the 60s while learning some of the “mystery or the why” of a high wire artist was fascinating. And, the perfect mentor for Philippe Petit is played by Sir Ben Kingsley as Papa Rudy. He teaches him to respect and to salute the audience as well as other secrets. Read more…