Monday, January 19, 2009

"Man on Wire" (Documentary) (2008) - Movie Review

What is the aspiration to climb mountains or to do the activity whiskers away from the death for a person? There is a nameless passion living inside them to be in a place where they have imagined so many times in their every night’s sleep. That imagination need to be felt. They strongly express that human right to feel it and chase it with everything they have got. Nothing could discourage them and the consequences are immaterial. It is the moment they would wait for, the time were explanation is futile and the experience comes into the umbrella of one thing nurtured all through their life, soul of the mind. This is James Marsh directed documentary “Man on Wire” and one such person is a French man named Philippe Petit.

The film basically would vividly tell how Petit and his friends planned this operation to barge secretively on to the roofs of World Trade Center and tie a wire in between these two gargantuan structures and then Petit’s walk of death would be performed. We do not learn about how they got funded or how Philippe’s passion grew and whether there was failure after failure and the performance itself. What we see is one instance of his passion explained a little bit in his young age. That is when young Philippe tore the news article about the construction of the twin tower and ran across the streets to find his destiny and he was nineteen by that time. He walked the wires between tall structures and be in the moment. All through the film we never question his reasoning however absurd and dangerous it sounds. Of course we are convenient by the members being present today but beyond that we have displaced those questions when we see him walk over the tight wire.

With the eerie and deeply affecting music of Michael Nyman, the members who helped him do this magical act explain as in a heist film. They had all covered with insiders and other helpers to get Philippe to the roof. His friends Jean-Louis, Jean François, Jim Moore, Alan and his then girl friend Annie along with many other key players see something in this man as we see, they are pulled in by the adventure. But more to the fact there is a person who wants to do what he wants to do and in many ways they are dissatisfied with their inability to dare the life which drove them to take extraordinary steps to help him.

Philippe and his accomplice rode up as workers on to the roof top while dodging largely easy notices from the guards. On the other tower the crew experiences the same thing. The film works as a thriller and we hold the thoughts whether they would be caught or not. James Marsh makes us even forget their agenda on the roof. For a serious time we do think of them escaping rather than Philippe’s walking. And in reality they would have thought the same.

Philippe in the film giving interview runs around, hides behind the curtain, gestures with hand and speaks animated on the ordeal to get his act performed. The camera in one moment follows along his hand gesture from top describing so detailed that the cinematographer Igor Martinovic truly wants the audience to be pulled in his explanation as he did. And it is a great story to tell. How many of us can tell that we broke in to the then tallest towers in New York City and have assisted a man to walk from one roof to other over a rope with no strings attached for safety.

What is moving about this film is something without title. Something in the reviews I talk and talk about which are the moments. The passing time of the stillness we miss to appreciate. There is a profound image in that. As Philippe says even if it would result in death, what a beautiful way to die doing what he was passionate about. We do not grasp it entirely and we honestly could not. In the current event of life we pass up those opportunities to break free and follow what it would be the gut says. When a person does that over the screen which is clearly a sign of madness in the regularity of one’s life, it transpires into a feeling unknown inside of us.

Many people and I would presume the audience would ask what the journalists in New York in 1974 August 7th asked Philippe, which is “Why”. There is this burning desire for reasons. Reasons to pursue life, reasons to wake up, reasons to the stages of life set by the standards of the society. We have been bred into a life of such to hunt for reasons and most of the times that helps in getting the knowledge we seek for. But there are these frames in the day when reasoning seems absurder than the act of complete bizarreness. When the images of Philippe between the towers springs up, you will realize there is no why out there. There is nothing in the world which could describe that feeling. Of course there needs an existence of space and time where the languages can suffer in scarcity of its words to describe those. It is perfectly alright to be like that.

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