“I would be happy to watch James Marsh‘s documentary Man on Wire on a continuous loop, preferably shown on the wall beside my desk, volume off, while I try to write,” says author Ann Patchett in a N.Y. Times “Screens That Matter” piece compiled by Emily Gould.
“Aside from being deft on a high wire, Philippe Petit was smart enough to have made plenty of footage of his gorgeous and glorious youth, rolling around in tall grass in the French countryside with his friends, walking the wire with his girl on his back. But the film’s true moment of glory was also Petit’s: the 45 minutes he spent traversing the space in the air back and forth and back and forth between the two World Trade Center buildings. He bows, salutes, kneels and then, as if the glory of the world has finally overwhelmed him, he simply lies down in the clouds.
“His art was exhilaration, fearlessness, a wild grab at life. The wire he and his friends strung at night between the two towers formed the intersection of recklessness and precision. And those buildings, those silent supporting actors, you can’t help marveling at how young they are.
“In August 1974, when Petit took his morning stroll, they were still raw on their upper floors, not completely finished. I would wish for those buildings that they could someday be remembered for how they began — with the felonious act of a young man who was madly in love with them, their height, their audacity, their doubled beauty — instead of how they ended. Man on Wire gives those towers back to us, at least for a little while. It also reminds us of all that art is capable of when what is risked is everything.”