Every year, there’s a documentary that achieves some semblance of mainstream success. (As much as a good chunk of the country would hate to admit it, a large reason for this, in recent years, is Michael Moore. Before he became quite so self-righteous and abrasive he was shedding some needed light in ‘Roger and Me’ and ‘Bowling for Columbine’.) This year’s ‘March of the Penguins’ is ‘Man on Wire,’ a film they’ve been showing at our local independent theater for – no joke – the last 6 months. Of course, we wound up seeing it on Netflix instead.
Please note that the film is named ‘Man on Wire’ because those are the words that appeared – in all capitals – on the police report, to describe the wrongdoing: MAN ON WIRE. That’s much more hilarious than it being some kind of play on the barely mediocre Denzel Washington film, ‘Man on Fire.’
It’s the story of a tightrope walker from Paris, who in 1974 put a tightrope between the two towers of the newly constructed World Trade Center, and walked between them. Leading up to this stunt, he had also “wirewalked” at Notre Dame and over a bridge in Sydney, some pretty daring feats, but nothing compared to the wire suspended 102 floors up at the World Trade Center.
The movie was interesting, and included interviews with the actual wirewalker, as well as his cohorts (the guy who was working at the WTC at the time, who they were able to send supplies to, his girlfriend, etc.). Unfortunately, they also introduced characters (for lack of a better term) who, it turned out, dropped out of the stunt before it went down, which made little sense to me. Especially, since we were already keeping track of one Jean-Francoise, one Jean-Louis, one “Australian”, one Albert and one Alan.
It was particularly neat to see actual footage from planning and training meetings interwoven with the interviews, which made it strange that the director also included re-enactments. That part was just kind of awkward. Also awkward: The wirewalker in one scene, in an attempt to illustrate hide-and-seek, does so with just his head poking out of a curtain.
All in all, an enjoyable movie to digest – I hope some of the real-life people get to go to the Oscars!
7.5 Twix bars!