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Man on Wire

Listen to our KPBS Film Club of the Air discussion of the new documentary Man on Wire (opening August 8 at Landmark's Hillcrest Cinemas). The film chronicles the obessions of Philippe Petit who, on August 7th 1974, walked across a wire illegally rigged between New York's Twin Towers, which were at that time the world's tallest buildings. The film's title is taken from the police report that used the phrase "man on wire" to describe the incident. Filmmaker James Marsh documents -- with an amazing amount of archival footage -- Petit's dream project. & Petit himself is a bundle of energy, passion, and enthusiasm as he describes his dreams and the nuts and bolts details of achieving it. Marsh lets the story play out like a heist film. Without ever mentioning 9/11, Marsh invokes the tragedy as he shows the towers being built and the awe they inspired. The fact that Petit and his crew could sneak into those building with bows and arrows and huge cables, and essentially be able to walk away because their prank was deemed to be not malicious reveals a kind of innocence that we may never be able to recapture. The film has a very bittersweet tone as it almost delivers an elegy to a bygone, more innocent time. Just as Petit after his famous stunt seems unable to recapture that drive and enthusiasm we don't seem able to go back and recapture something from our collective past either. Man on Wire is definitely worth checking out.

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