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Movie Review: Man on Wire

Alternate Title: Magnificent Obsession

Story: Performance artist or con artist? Those old enough to remember the more innocent days of August, 1974 can recall the French high wire artist, Philippe Petit who made headlines around the world with his daring high wire crossing across the top of the two towers of the World Trade Center.

Director James Marsh's fascinating documentary is engaging, entertaining, thought provoking and often pretty funny. I only recoiled for a few moments when I saw the first file footage of the Trade Center. Director Marsh cleverly does not concentrate on the terrorist activities of 1993 or 2001. Those images are in the viewer's head and are quickly erased. His focus is on Petit, his 10 year obsession with the Towers, his training, his planning and his oddball gang of willing assistants who allowed him to make history.

Thanks to Petit's own archival footage we can also see his daring crossing of the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral in 1971 and his Sydney Harbour Bridge crossing in 1973. One can only imagine where he would end up today if these feats were attempted in this era of paranoia.

The title Man on Wire comes from the arresting officer's paperwork as he describes the reason for the arrest. Give yourself a summer treat and watch this impish, puck like man of the 70's strut his stuff.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9OewWObqOk

Acting: Not applicable in a documentary. But Philippe Petit is always on stage, I think. Jean-Francois Heckel, Jean-Louis Blondeau, Annie Allix, David Foreman

Trivia: Director James Marsh seems to have a thing going for Elvis. He directed a 2005 film called The King and also made The Burger & the King: The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley.

Predilection: I like documentary films.

Sex Spectrum: There is a goofy recreation of Petit's sexcapade with one of the admiring groupies that he discovers shortly after the daring feat.

Blatant Product Placement: None

Soundtrack: Funny

Visual Art: Terrific aerial photography.

Theater Audience: A handful of admirers.

Quirky Meter: 2 - The three New Yorkers who aided Petit in his quest were the quirkiest of the bunch.

Squirm Scale: Some of the still photography is a but squirmy if you have a fear of heights.

Drift Factor: I paid attention throughout.

Oscar Worthy: no

Big Screen or Rental: Either would do.

Length: 100 minutes