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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 11 March 2017
I watched this after watching https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01AIIMOCU/ref=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_71. It was useful watching both.
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on 3 April 2017
Awesome documentary film seen this three times absolutely love it.
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on 6 March 2017
As described
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on 22 February 2009
Philippe Petit, a Frenchman high-wire walker was unknown to most people until one summer morning in 1974 he walked across the twin towers on a high-wire. A feat that took him months of secret preparations to accomplish and landed him in prison - outastanding feats always seem to provoke the small-minded. The British documentarist James Marsh, after a long but always as exciting, introduction on Petit's previous feats (walking on a high-wire across Notre Dame Casthedral in Paris and later on Sidney's Harbor Bridge in Australia), relates Petit's twin towers feat like a "Rififi" type of thriller, presenting in detail all the aspects of the preparation and editing his material tightly and with a rythm that catches your breath. Here is a suspenful, some times humorous, drama that at the same time moves you to the point of crying. What the film is finally about is that of a courageous man who, against all logic, walks up and down on a wire, high up in the sky, sitting and relaxing in-between, almost dancing, like a Fred Astaire of the skies, for more than 45 minutes, challenging man, nature and the whole universe, making you feel that you can do anynthing you want as long as you really believe in it! But what is still more exciting is the beauty of it all, of those wonderful images of that man up there, alone and happy, enjoying his Sky Odyssey. A film worthy of many Oscars!!!
Ninos Mikelides
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on 16 February 2009
When a documentary beats Slumdog Millionaire, Hunger, Mama Mia and In Bruges to the Outstanding British Film BAFTA you become very happy when it's just dropped through the letterbox. Simon Chinn and James Marsh's film tells the story (of which I was completely unaware) of Phillipe Petit's daring and illegal high-wire walk between the World Trade Centre's twin towers in New York in 1974. The mixture of interview, reconstruction and archive footage immediately brings to mind the superb Touching The Void (itself a BAFTA winner) and this film succeeds in much the same way; building tension, slowly revealing character and showing the devastating impact of a singular event on the lives of those involved.

The film drops you straight into the middle of the action as the various players make their way to the twin towers. Some have criminal sounding names like 'The Australian' or AKA's but we know that this is 'the artistic crime of the century', one with no victims, only leaving those who witnessed it touched by something special. At the centre, Petit is a clownish figure, unsurprising given his street-performer background, looking as a young man a little like Malcolm McDowell but his face now is softened and comical as he takes obvious pleasure from telling the story. This is contrasted with the obvious distress caused to those nearest and dearest to him. His girlfriend talks with great honesty about how this singular man completely dominated her life and conveys even today the sheer magic of being a spectator to his stunts. His closest friend Jean Louis Blondeau is touchingly emotional, conveying more than anyone else the culpability his accomplices felt in an event that could very well of course ended in death.

The element that luck plays in this plan's fulfilment is staggering and when you combine this with the fact that Petit had first come up with the idea on seeing a picture of the towers before construction had even begun (his simple hand-drawn line between the two buildings a perfect illustration of his joyous naivete) you begin to feel that this event had to happen. The effect on those who saw it is palpable, in one great piece of footage the arresting officer is clearly in thrall to this 'tight-rope dancer'. This is what makes the event and its remembrance in this superlative documentary such a fitting way to reclaim the towers from the event which removed them, the event which isn't mentioned once, but which casts such a long shadow that simply seeing a photograph of Petit on the wire, a plane flying past in the background, is enough to remind us of the singularity of his achievement, never to be repeated.

Even if you have a mild touch of vertigo like me this film is a must-see.
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VINE VOICEon 17 November 2016
I would recommend this to anybody. This is more than a good story, it has a profound philosophical message at its core about life and the way we live it. It also happens to be very well made. The reconstructions and original footage blend almost seamlessly, in fact it's somewhat surreal how good the original home movie footage (I'm guessing 16mm) is but then I'm used to old movies being filmed on video tape. In addition most of the key players seem to be involved in the documentary, even those who bailed out, which I think is a nice touch. They all have something thoughtful and cogent to say. Of course, somehow because this is the Twin Towers it has an added level of poignancy. It could be argued that the previous walks at Notre Dame and the Sydney Harbour Bridge were equally risky, one slip and he was dead, but there is something about the planning and risks taken to make this walk against the odds on this most iconic of buildings that should stir anyone with a pulse. Or even without one.
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on 13 July 2009
I had seen this in the cinema when it was released and thought it was amazing. Whilst it got rave reviews, unfortunately it was only on in cinemas for a very limited time - one night only in the case of most places.....such a shame as it is truly fantastic. It tells the story of how Philippe Petit walked between the Twin Towers in New York - something which is all the more poignant now that they are no longer there. It is part documentary, with all the people involved in the planning and execution of this insane and incredible feat telling their story. There is also a dramatic reconstruction of how the team were able to get into the Towers and footage of Philippe practicing for this. It also includes footage of his walks between other towers - Notre Dame in Paris and Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia and an interview with the man himself.
In the wide screen of the cinema, it was both dramatic and exciting and watching it again on DVD was still an "edge of your seat" experience.
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I read Philippe Petit's book "To Reach The Clouds" which tell the story of these events a few years ago and even as a book it was a thrilling tale, but as a film it is something else.

Back in 1974, when I was three years old, Philippe Petit had already completed tightrope walks between the pylons of Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the towers of Notre Dame cathedral, but he had bigger plans. Long before these feats he had seen an article in a magazine whilst in a dentist's waiting room about the future construction of the World Trade Centre, and an idea formed in his mind. From that moment on he wanted to perform incredible tightrope walks, usually without permission, and he knew that the World Trade Centre would be the ultimate.

The film tells the story of how the feat was accomplished, and the voices we hear are those of the perpetrators, including - and most engagingly of all - Petit himself. Most of those involved speak English, but some don't - be prepared for a few subtitles - and the story is told through film shot by the team, photographs (the walk between the towers wasn't filmed) and some subtly done dramatisation which still feels archival.

As a documentary it works extremely well, and in several places it is even exciting as you wonder if they'll be spotted by a security guard, and ask yourself how they'll get the cable between the buildings (the solution is ingenious, if a little Heath-Robinson). Overall the fact that they achieved their goal is a superb example of triumph over adversity.

One last thing. Don't worry about seeing footage of the 9/11 attacks - that terrible event isn't even mentioned.

A superb documentary, and an excellent film all round.
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In 1974 Philippe Petit succeeded in stretching a wire between the twin towers in New York, and walking not once but several times, backwards and forwards along the wire. A quarter of a mile up.

This incredible feat and the six years of meticulous planning that went into it, including the logistics of dodging the security around the tower - he moved to New York from his native France for eight months beforehand - are detailed in the film, which was made in 2008.

There is a lot of original footage from 1974 as well as reconstructions.

The single minded determination, and almost fanatical devotion to the cause, shown by Petit and his supporters, comes across strongly. He disappeared immediately after the event, sidetracked from celebrating with his friends, and the strength of their emotional reaction about that, even after so many years, is astounding.

I loathe and fear heights - the sight of Petit nonchalantly grinning and teasing the police, just out of reach, casually looking down to the people below, as he crossed and re-crossed - some say 8 times, and for an hour - is unbelievable. It's hard to believe he actually did this,

As for the question "why," which he has been asked repeatedly since; it's best to watch the film before deciding. For his supporters and friends, and many who witnessed the act that day, it was something beautiful which could never be repeated. For Petit, it was a demonstration that he was free to do something outside the mundane expectations of normal life.
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on 25 February 2009
For a start I can't get my head around the fact that a man actually walked on a high wire between the twin towers!

Petit is unique. This is obvious from his present day interviews in this film and the 1970's footage. He has no rational fear in a way most people have. Otherwise how could he contemplate walking between the towers of Notre Dame or the Sydney Harbour bridge, never mind the World Trade Centre?

The film works on a number of levels.
It shows us the unique way that Petit thinks and sees the world. It lets us see the relationships he had with people who were close to him and helped him "do" the Twin Towers. Through interviews and reconstructions it shows how he and his team went about getting him on the wire.
All these stories are fascinating in themselves. How he got to the top of the buildings with a crew containing selfconfessed flakes is amazing!

Especially touching is the way that Petit's life and the lives of those who were close to him were never the same the minute he stepped off the wire. The story of his "encounter" with a groupie after his release and the reaction of his then long time girlfriend shows this nicely.

Anyone who believes in the power of the human spirit will want to watch this film again and again.
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