Saturday, 26 May 2012

Film Review: MAN ON WIRE (2008)

Man on Wire - poster Director: James Marsh
Writer: Philippe Petit (book)
Running time: 94 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12

Genre: Documentary/Biography
UK Release date: 1st August 2009

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 26th May 2012.


This film was on TV a couple of years ago at Christmas but I sadly missed it then and ever since I’ve been scanning the TV listings for a repeat. Well it finally came and I got a chance to see this fascinating documentary. It tells the story behind Philippe Petit’s death defying high-wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center (I’ll use the American spelling just this once) back in 1974.

Man on Wire - 7 Even before the Twin Towers were built Philippe was fascinated by the idea that he might walk between them on a high wire. To this end he pulled off a couple of stunts in the years leading up to his attempt. First he and a group of friends strung a high wire between the towers of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris and he walked between then, performing stunts as he went. Of course he was arrested afterwards. Next he went to Sydney, Australia and pulled off a similar stunt between the towers at one end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge… Again he was arrested afterwards. All this was building up to his attempt to walk between the Twin Towers which would take several years to plan. Other people, Americans, were brought in, not all of whom were trusted by some of the French contingent of the team. It was planned like a meticulous heist and when the day finally came… Well, I guess I’ll leave you to find that bit out for yourselves.

Man on Wire - 5 A very well made documentary with certain scenes from the story being reconstructed using actors. These are inter-cut with interviews, archive footage and stills of the events being described. It’s all very well done although I did feel they went into a little too much depth in places. Over all though, a very enjoyable watch and a tremendous achievement by Philippe Petit and his team. I must say I was quite blown away by his daring and the, almost military precision required by the team to pull it off… Highly RECOMMENDED.

My score: 8.3/10

IMDb Score: 7.9/10 (based on 18,869 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: 89/100: (Based on 31 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 100/100 (based on 150 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 88/100 ‘Liked It’ (based on 21,218 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

Man on Wire - 6 If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:

Mark Lewis: I never doubted Philippe's talent, his prowess on the wire. It was the unforeseen things that really worried me. You know, America's a very litigious society... you know, involuntary manslaughter, assisted suicide... I didn't want to be liable for the death of a friend.

Philippe Petit: If I die, what a beautiful death!

Alan Welner: The fact that I could not speak French, and didn't know what the sound was or what had happened with the wire... was probably just as well.

Man on Wire - 8 Philippe Petit: Life should be lived on the edge of life. You have to exercise rebellion: to refuse to tape yourself to rules, to refuse your own success, to refuse to repeat yourself, to see every day, every year, every idea as a true challenge - and then you are going to live your life on a tightrope.

Sgt Charles Daniels: ...I observed the tight rope dancer... because you couldn't call him a walker... approximately half-way between the two towers. I personally figured I was watching something that somebody else would never see again in the world. Thought it was once in a lifetime.

Man on Wire - 3 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site:

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