What You Need To Know:
MAN ON WIRE creates a constant sense of jeopardy, although viewers realize Petit successfully completed his stunt at the World Trade Center. What no one expects is the surprising ending of his personal story. Regrettably, this movie is lost to family audiences because Petit says the point to life is rebellion and the movie shows a brief grainy flashback of a naked couple cavorting. Without these things, MAN ON WIRE would be an interesting morality tale. As it is, 90% of the movie is superb, but the last 10% falls apart.
(PaPa, C, Ro, L, V, SS, NNN, DD, MM) Strong eclectic pagan worldview with some Christian references and some rebellious Romantic notions; one light obscenity; no real violence but constant jeopardy from high-wire act; very grainy, very brief flashback of depicted sexual encounter between man and woman; full male and female nudity in one brief flashback; no alcohol use; discussions of marijuana use; and, law-breaking by sneaking into famous structures like the World Trade Center and the Notre Dame Cathedral to walk a tightrope between various structures.
MAN ON WIRE is a fascinating, edge-of-your-seat, danger, and jeopardy filled documentary about French performance artist Philippe Petit, who defied death by tightrope walking between the twin towers of the World Trade Center on Aug. 7, 1974.
The movie opens with Petit seeing a newspaper article about the yet-to-be-built World Trade Center, the world’s tallest buildings at the time. Immediately his passion is ignited. He starts mentally preparing to tightrope between the two towers while they are being planned and built. He practices in the fields behind his home. He recruits a very interesting group, including his love interest Annie, his childhood friend Jean-Louis and several others who make his vision their vision.
Petit prepares for this incredible feat by walking a tightrope between the towers of other famous structures, such as the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and the bridge in Sydney Harbor in Australia. Although he must sneak into these structures, he does not think he’s a criminal because he’s not hurting anyone or taking anything. He knows it’s illegal, however, and the police arrest him each time.
Even though everyone who’s watching this movie knows he made the walk between the twin towers, including doing stunts on the high wire, such as kneeling and lying down on the wire, MAN ON WIRE creates a constant sense of jeopardy. What no one expects is the surprising ending of his personal story. Although there are references to long-time smoking marijuana by one of his compatriots, Petit himself seems very fit and healthy in his approach toward life. As an older man, he wears a T-shirt from a church. In fact, he has been the artist at a cathedral in New York for the last 30 years.
That said, this movie is lost to family audiences because Petit says that the point to life is rebellion and, for some reason, the movie shows a brief flashback, highly shadowed, of a fully naked couple cavorting. Without these things, MAN ON WIRE would be an interesting morality tale. As it is, 90% of the movie is superb, but the last 10% falls apart.