In 1974, Phillippe Petit took a step that would change his life.
The French high-wire artist's iconic high-wire walk between Manhattan's World Trade Centre towers has been immortalised in films, books and art many times over the past four decades. The latest retelling comes from Robert Zemeckis and was shot in dazzling 3D. With credits on films that broke new ground for special effects (think ‘Back to the Future’, ‘Forrest Gump’ and ‘The Polar Express’), Zemeckis is a master at telling exciting visual stories, and it doesn't get much more jaw-dropping than a journey into the clouds above New York City.
Just as the city is referred to as "the fifth character" on shows like ‘Sex and the City’, the iconic towers act as another member of the gang that Phillippe assembles to help him pull off his unlawful "coup". The film is very much a posthumous love letter to the towers, especially considering how great an effect Phillippe's walk had on the public response to their early existence. At the time of the walk, the towers were considered to be ugly and utilitarian, blights on the famous New York City skyline. Following the walk, a real sense of affection was developed for the buildings among New Yorkers—after all, they'd have to be something pretty special for a thrill-seeking young Frenchman to choose them as the stage for such a grand stunt!
The film does a terrific job of building towards the titular journey from the corner of one tower to another. We see Phillippe discover the circus as a young boy in rural France, perfect his craft as a street performer, painstakingly plan his coup and pull off his first illegal walk between the towers of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris.
It says a lot about this film that the build-up is just as captivating and visually stunning as the dramatic high-wire walk from the top of the tallest building in the world, but Phillippe's journey is just that engrossing, every step of the way.
‘The Walk’ is released at HOYTS Melbourne Central from Thursday, 15 October, 2015. To score your own free tickets to future screenings, join the Melbourne Central Movie Club on Facebook and you’ll be updated when a new event is taking place!