Man on Wire

Tomorrow is the 11th September, a date firmly etched in memory, and this film, about Philippe Petit - who walked back and forth, eight times, on a tightrope between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974 - calls to mind (though never comes close to mentioning) the people who stepped off the towers, without a tightrope, on that day in 2001.

In Don DeLillo's Falling Man there is a character in the novel who is also a performance artist, called Falling Man - himself a representation of the falling figure captured in a photograph against the burning towers - who performs in the weeks following 9/11:

"He'd appeared several times in the last week, unannounced, in various parts of the city, suspended from one or another structure, always upside down, wearing a suit, a tie and dress shoes. He brought it back, of course, thoses stark moments in the burning towers when people fell or were forced to jump."

Petit is a man who likes to play, to show off, and to perform, but it is the people who helped him achieve what he did who, in their way, are more revealing. One of his closest friends breaks down in tears remembering how, after setting up and witnessing the tightrope walk at close hand, something broke in their relationship. We don't find out what it was. Perhaps they are tears for a more innocent time. Either way, Shornbare was moved.


10th September, 2008