Sometimes I'm able to find time in my busy schedule of Netflix and sleeping to open up my laptop and watch movie trailers. I'm a sucker for trailers, I'm exactly the person they are made for. They get me so pumped! And the other night when I saw the trailer for The Walk I was just that. And then a sudden twinge of nervousness came.
The Walk, set to hit theaters October 2nd, is the true story of Philippe Petit and his death defying accomplishment of walking a high wire strung between the Twin Towers. It's a story you would think can only come from Hollywood. No way is it true. But that's one of the best parts, it is true and diving deeper into how it all happened it only gets more and more astonishing.
The movie is based off the book 'To Reach the Clouds' written by Petit himself. But there is another movie based off his book. A Documentary actually, a very important documentary at that. The Academy Award winning Man on Wire (2008) was the Documentary that started it all for me. I used to be just like so many other people, completely turned off by the mere mention of the word documentary. Because oh so naively my mind went straight to nature docs. I thought that's all there was. Boring nature, science, history docs you were forced to watch in school. Nothing but watching animals lie around and poop while the British version of Ben Stein drones on about who the hell cares. If it not for one fateful day in my summer film appreciation class 4 years ago, I would still be that same ignorant unappreciative girl. There is so much that goes into WHY this documentary is so phenomenal. Yes it is very much thanks to the amazing style and vision of Director James Marsh, DP Igor Martinovic, and the rest of the crew. But even with their amazing artistry this film would be nothing without Philippe and his friends. They are the ones that lived it, and with their beautiful and poetic words their story comes back to life as they take you through all of the preparation, struggles, emotions and seemingly sheer luck that led up to Philippe's amazing performance back in 1974.
Philippe is a fantastic story teller, he's so animated and has an infectious energy that pulls you in. He gets just as excited about the story as I can only imagine he was when it was all happening for the first time. He's truly an inspiration, he dedicated so much of his life to his dream of walking between the tops of the towers. The truest form of a dream, he was struck in an instant with an undying need to accomplish this crazy, dangerous feat just from seeing a picture of the plans to build these two giant towers in a magazine. And with hard work, dedication and the help of some brave and immensely supportive friends he lived his dream. How many people can say that? Philippe is one of those diamond in the rough personalities. He's so passionate and just beams with positive energy it's no surprise that he was able to wrangle in strangers to help him the way he did. Annie, Philippe's girlfriend at the time says at one point
"The towers were built for him."
By the end of the documentary, you easily believe the same. The Documentary is beautifully done in such an imaginative style that so perfectly parallels Philippe's energy and story telling. It has a great, more theatrical feeling style of reenactment seamlessly woven between unbelievable found footage and photos from this time in Philippe's life. (There's also a part towards the end that looks like its straight out of A Clockwork Orange, which is so fitting in my mind because young Philippe looks so much like young Malcolm McDowell to me.) It is this documentary and Philippe's story that continue to push me and inspire me to accomplish my own dream of working in the film industry. I only hope I someday am able to make a documentary half as gripping and inspiring as Man on Wire. I want this film to do the same for others as it did for me. That is why it is so important to me to share this film with anyone and everyone. I want to spread awareness, so everyone watches it before The Walk hits theaters. Get the true story straight from the Frenchman's mouth.
As always with book to film adaptations, that nervous twinge after watching the trailer came from fear that the story will be too glamorized when altered to fit the silver screen. This story needs no Hollywood spicing up to keep butts at the edge of the seats. Philippe is alive and free so obviously we know how it ends, but still even through Man on Wire you are nervous for the outcome asking yourself, will they get caught, can they really do this?! There are a few moments in the trailer that cause that disappointed "don't mess this up" feeling in my stomach. I hope the film does this story justice the same way the documentary did. But because I can already see a few instances of hollywood "enhancement" I will reiterate, Please Please Pleeeeease watch Man on Wire! It's available on Netflix instant queue, so easy and readily available for viewing! It does put me a little at ease knowing that Philippe worked one on one with JGL to prepare him for this role. Elizabeth Day, a writer for The Guardian US interviewed Petit and asked him about Joseph Gordon-Levitt:
Your memoir, To Reach the Clouds, is being made into a feature film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as you. Have you met him?
Yes, we have met and more than that, I gave him a two-week private workshop, teaching him high-wire, magic and juggling.
Was he any good?
Yes, he actually was very good. After two weeks, we put a wire up 6ft high, 30ft long and he did a single crossing by himself.
So some of the wire walking in the film will really be done by Levitt himself. I'm still a liiittle bit worried about his french accent. But I worry about anyones fake French accent. It's one of the harder ones to pull off. Somehow bad french accents come off sounding oddly Jamaican. JGL isn't quite Jamaican but it doesn't sound natural either. I'll try to stop judging such a hard accent so harshly, we shall see. I do hope they give at least Philippe a cameo. He's such a character how could you not? I did just watch Man on Wire again, and my love for that film has only increased. It actually got me a little bit more excited for The Walk as well. some of the shots even just seen in the trailer resemble those from Man on Wire which makes me very happy. I hope everyone see's both films. This story just deserves to be told.
Will you see either of these films?
Do you like documentaries? Have any suggestions? Leave them below for me! I absolutely love finding new ones to obsess over. Have you seen Man on Wire, did you love it (or maybe you didn't)? Lets talk about it. . . .