Director: James Marsh
Year Released: 2008
In 1974, French street performer Philippe Petit conceived of a plan to string a tightrope in between the two World Trade Center buildings and parade back and forth - his seemingly insane dream involved the assistance of several other people, the need to sneak into the building, rig the rope and then deal (inevitably) with the police. Petit, giddy as a school boy and full of hubris, is his own greatest myth-maker, making an impressive stunt sound like some sort of work of divine intervention and mysticism (in a separate interview, he dismisses tightrope walkers in the circus, claiming that what he does is different from them: that his walking is a 'performance') and it should come as no surprise that he's friends in real-life with Werner Herzog. I think we can all admit that if the towers still stood this story wouldn't still have the same allure: it's a documentary steeped in nostalgia, a fact not lost on director Marsh (who avoids mentioning the loss of the buildings). It ends rather abruptly, too: after Petit is taken away by the police, he declares himself a star, he cheats on his girlfriend, his friends weep and hint that the event severed their friendship - information that Marsh skims past before going straight to the credits. What happened after that? Can't leave out the negatives, Jimmy....