Archives / 2008 Sundance Film Festival

Man on Wire

Director: James Marsh

Institute History

Description

August 7, 1974—A young Frenchman named Philippe Petit steps out on a wire suspended 1,350 feet above ground between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. He dances on the wire with no safety net for almost an hour, crossing it eight times before he is arrested for what becomes known as “the artistic crime of the century.”

In the months leading up to his clandestine walk, Petit assembles a team of accomplices to plan and execute his “coup” in the most intricate detail. How do they pull it off? Moving between New York and his secret training camp in rural France, Petit and his team plot every detail. Like a band of professional bank robbers, the tasks they face seem virtually insurmountable. But Petit is a man possessed; nothing will thwart his mission to conquer the world’s tallest buildings.

Unfolding like a delicious heist film, Man on Wire brings Petit’s extraordinary adventure back to life with visceral immediacy ripened with post-9/11 nostalgia. In candid interviews, Petit and all the key participants relish this chance to tell their story. Buoyed with eye-catching archival footage, clever dramatizations, and delightful visual effects, filmmaker James Marsh, like his daring subject, pulls off an astonishing coup.

— David Courier

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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