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Man On Wire

DIRECTED BY - James Marsh

Recipient of the 2009 Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking.

James Marsh's dazzling, invigorating documentary MAN ON WIRE tells the story of a truly inspiring figure. In the early 1970s, a fiery young Frenchman named Philippe Petit wanted to shake up the world. When he saw the World Trade Center being built in New York City, he found his mission. Petit was a trained high wire walker, and his goal was to set up a wire between the two towers and give the world a show it could never have expected. As is often the case with these endeavors, the actual high-wire walking was the easiest part of the plan. For nearly seven years, Petit worked on the project, recruiting associates who supported him every step of the way. Finally, after eight months in New York, the day came when Petit and his cronies jumped into action. This wasn't easy. They had to find a way to sneak past security and make their way to the top of the towers with heavy equipment, at which point they had to battle the elements to install the wire. After many close scares, the time came for Petit to realize his dream--and the rest, as they say, is history. Marsh crafts MAN ON WIRE like a heist film, presenting rare and fascinating footage of the actual event alongside flawless reenactments and modern-day interviews with the participants. The result is an immersive, emotionally gratifying motion picture, made all the more stimulating by Michael Nyman's electrifying score.

Film Info

RUNTIME - 94 minutes

RATING - Not Rated

YEAR - 2008

LANGUAGE - English

SUBTITLES - English, Spanish

ATTRIBUTES - Widescreen, Full-Frame


DVD Features:

Keep Case

Full Frame - 1.33

Widescreen - 1.85




James Marsh


Simon Chinn


Philippe Petit

Director of Photography

Igor Martinovic

Source Writer

Philippe Petit


Michael Nyman

Executive Producer

Jonathan Hewes




"The film succeeds in the evocation of pure celebratory joy, but ultimately the profundity and emotional salience of Man on Wire lies in not what is shown, but in what is conjured by the audiences own memories. Watching the New Yorkers from the 70s who looked up in celebration requires a reinterpretation on our part of the ingrained memory of looking up in horror. As we experience the cinematic reenactment of Petits daring high wire act, the mixture of their pure joy with our innate grief generates a most unusual catharsis, which is not ironic, but bittersweet."    --Holly Herrick, Hammer To Nail

"[I]ts fantasy of an aesthetically driven city out of lockstep with financial or legal rationale strikes a chord..."

- Film Comment Staff, Film Comment

"[E]nthralling....A film that will surely elicit gasps of wonder from its audiences....Marsh's film is as giddy and constantly breathtaking as the story it tells."



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