MAN ON WIRE: Me and heights just don’t go together, so we generally keep a pretty big distance between us.
You see, the very thought of scaling or walking on anything above the dizzying heights of my 6 foot frame would generally be enough to raise the ol’ heart rate about 20-30 beats/minute higher (though that could just be the regular doses of coffee I imbibe); induce a mild panic attack and set my knees to shaking.
And, I can safely say that I’m not the only one who suffers from this debilitating if slightly irrational fear.
Fear clearly wasn’t a problem with the daringly courageous 24 old French high-wire artisit by the name of Phillippe Petit, who, on August 7, 1974 strung a wire between (what was) the two towers of the World Trade Centre in New York.
He then, 1,350 feet above the ground, proceeded to perform a serious of precarious and nerve-wracking acrobatic movements and knee bends, whilst walking all the way across the wire, much to the annoyance of the local Port Authority policemen and amazement of the heavenward gazing onlookers
This riveting documentary, made in 2008 and directed by James Marsh, revisits the astonishing achievement 34 years after it occurred, recounting the events leading up to it and meeting the other people involved in, what many people have dubbed “the artistic crime of the 20th century”. It serves as a fitting; awe-inspiring and sobering memorial to the stunning things that human beings are capable of when they put their minds down to it and how nothing ever stays the same.
However, there is an unescapable dimension to this jaw-dropping accomplishment that makes this film all the more bittersweet and poignant. It is that you are watching two towers that were collided into by two planes on that fateful day back on September 11, 2001 and now (along with so many innocent and unsuspecting lives) no longer exist. The epicentre of America’s greatness or greed, whichever way you look at it, collapsed to the ground; with a memorial now lying in its place.
So, why don’t you come along to the Presbyterian Church, High St, Tullamore this coming Friday January 27 at 8.30 pm with some friends; refreshments and a steady supply of nerves, while you thread the tightrope of Philippe Petit’s enduring feat with the rest of Tullamore Film Club. It will linger long in the memory.