Ever since I saw the documentary Man On Wire in 2008, I have wondered why I had never heard of Philippe Petit prior. Once I found out that there was a children's book featuring Petit’s story titled The Man Who Walked Between The Towers, I had to get it for my kids. Scholastic even made one of their Storybook Treasure cartoons from the children’s book. There is something incredibly romantic about Petit, his dream, and his determination to realize his vision. When I saw a theatrical trailer for The Walk a few months ago which is a biographical drama based on Petit’s high wire stunt in New York, I was pretty excited.
It is, of course, no secret why this story had more recently come to light. The towers went down. A tragedy to be certain. But for me the story does not bring up the memory of the tragedy except in the context of acknowledging the role it had in bringing the high wire story back to consciousness. I see what a Petit did as a celebration of the elegance of human potential. The 9/11 attacks represent the level of animosity that can be born of indifference. The only thing that relates these two events is this landmark. Perhaps that is why the children’s story, the documentary, and this film have come about in the aftermath. People want to remember the inspiration that occurred in the landmark’s beginning rather than the desperation of its end.
Both my four and six year olds are familiar with the story. They had even seen the documentary and remained engaged throughout. An accomplishment especially for a four year old (who was three when he saw it). My partner and I were looking for movies that we could take them to. As far as animated features there was only a sequel to a movie that we had not seen, so we showed the kids the trailer to The Walk. They wanted to see it. So a few days ago my family and I went to see it.
My impressions of the story as told by The Walk are mostly good. It is a biographical drama. The “drama” part means that facts are changed to make it interesting. I do not know how many inaccuracies are included in the other versions of the story that I have heard, but I would definitely say there are inconsistencies. That being understood, I thought the story as it was told was moving and captivating the entire time.
As far as the casting, I was initially unsure if Joseph Gordon-Levitt could pull this one off. I have no complaints about any other role I have seen him in, but it seemed a strange fit to me prior to my viewing of the film. I soon realized that my concerns were unfounded. He did a remarkable job of depicting the character of Philippe Petit.
At the theatre which we went to, the only available way to watch it was IMAX 3D. I am not usually a fan of 3D films. It tends to come across as gimmicky most of the time. In this case however, I was very impressed with the use of the medium. The last film I saw in 3D was Avatar, a film which was supposedly made to highlight the possibilities of 3D. In my opinion The Walk much more aptly fits that proposition. After seeing this in IMAX 3D, I think it would be regrettable to see it in 2D.
My four and six year old said they liked the film too. At a point in the film when Petit was walking between the towers they did get a bit scared and ended up taking off the 3D glasses. They told me that they were afraid that he may fall. Even after reminding them that they already know this story and how it ends, they remained tense. In the end, they said it was good. I even saw my four year old playing a “man who walked the towers” imaginary game using our living room furniture the next day.
As I suggested to my partner as we left the theatre, this was one of the most stimulating films that I had seen in the theatre in a while. I recommend checking it out, and if you can, in IMAX 3D.
Kirk is SeedSing's go to source for what has inspired and what will bring new inspiration. He believes in hummanity's capicity for greatness, most of the time. Follow Kirk on twitter @KirkAug.