This week I chose a film to watch, not on the basis of the director being Robert Zemeckis, but something that rarely happens, it being in 3D. The film in question was The Walk.
The reason why the director, cast etc did not have me rushing to see it, was because the Walk is based on true events, which have already been covered on screen, in the brilliant 2008 documentary, Man on Wire, based on the book, To Reach The Clouds.
Both chart the incredible story of Philippe Petit, a tightrope walker, who rather than be confined to the likes of the circus, looking for unusual places to perform his art, and in particular an illegal, high-wire routine performed between the Twin Towers of the newly-built World Trade Center in New York City.
The Walk, perhaps does of course give one bonus over the documentary, in that of course we will see the tightrope walk done. Due to exhaustion of the members of Phillippe’s crew, there was never any video footage of the walk, with only breath taking photo images taken.
The Walk is narrated to us by Petit (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as we follow his story. We see him starting out in 1973 as a French Street performer, doing his wire walks between trees and other circus tricks such as juggling acts, he can even do both at the same time.
On one performance, he is given a hard candy, which causes damage to his teeth, forcing him to visit a dentist, whilst there, he sees an article about the building of the Twin Towers and he plans to one day walk between them on a high wire.
This time of his life is a cause of great upheaval, after he is thrown out of his parents home, for being a dreamer and not bringing in any income to support his keep.
None of this deters Phillipe, who is practicing his art more and more, even sneaking into a circus big top and using their tight rope, until he is caught by Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley)
Rudy agrees to teach Petit and become his mentor, in return for compensation. The first of which involves a high wire walk across a lake, which turns out to be a failure, as the audience are more interest in fishing and insulting him.
Petit however redeems himself, by performing a high wire walk at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
During this time Petit has formed a romantic relationship with Annie (Charlotte Le Bon) a singer he met on the streets, performing in Paris. He is the first person he shares his Twin Towers dream with.
He eventually will build a team around Annie and himself, to make his dream a reality. These include Jean- Louis (Clement Sibony) a photographer; Barry (Steve Valentine) an Insurance salesman, who luckily for them they will eventually find, has clients moving into the towers, which will help get them access to the building works; Jeff (Cesar Domboy) an odd choice for the team, for he is scared of heights! Next up, whilst finding electronic devices to enable communication, they find J.P. (James Badge Dale) who completes the team with his friends Albert (Ben Schwartz) and David (Benedict Samuel)
For a film, with a 2 hour run time, this never drags, in fact it flies by, and exactly at hour and 30 in, the walk between the towers takes place. The 3D will give you a sense of the height, yet it is almost not needed, as the achievement itself is so incredible, that is jaw dropping enough.
This film really does mix the FX and CGI with Fact-based drama better than most, as you would expect from Zemeckis, with films such as Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit on his resume!
My initial reservations of having seen the documentary are forgotten, replaced by a great piece of film making about events that I was happy to view again.
The cast are all great, Gordon-Levitt in particular, is great in the title role. He shows the belief and arrogance that must have made Petit what he is, to achieve such an incredible risk and prove to be the best at his field of wire walking.
This true story is an incredible achievement of human desire and if you watched this drama or the documentary, both would likely take your breath away.
Have you seen either of these cinematic retelling of Petit stunning high wire walk? Would you prefer a drama over a documentary for telling these type of stories? What is the best film for 3d you have seen?
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