The Walk

Film nerds will remember a documentary released some years ago called Man On Wire. A mix of footage, reenactment and present-day interviews painted the story of Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the twin towers. (I remember this film so vividly I described its Academy Award nomination as “a year or two ago” to Sean when it fact it won in 2008).

the-walk-2015-movieRobert Zemeckis has bravely adapted this story in The Walk, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt an inspired choice as Petit.

The achievement, the thing to see, is of course the walk itself. In dizzying IMAX 3D, the effects glorifying the height are so realistically rendered that audience members feel real vertigo. If you’re not big into heights, may I remind you that the World Trade centre stood 1,362 feet above the ground, and Petit made his walk without a net. This has induced nausea and even vomiting in some audience members, and while I felt fine in that respect, I did experience some spine-tingling anxiety when nearly the whole of the second half of the film is spent up in the clouds, perched extremely precariously, sometimes tauntingly so, upon a wire we know to be improperly installed.

Petit narrates the story to us from atop another of New York’s tallest destinations – the Statue of Liberty’s flaming torch. This narration lends a fairy-tale quality to the film that it didn’t need zz21or benefit from, and in fact it felt like an affectation. The first half of the film is slow-going. It takes an hour to get to the good part, but if you believe that things are worth waiting for, then you’re in for a treat.  I’ve had 3D fatigue for quite some time now, but here again is a movie that actually uses it (like Everest) not just to drive up ticket prices, but to stoke the feeling of soaring (or of falling, if you’re a pessimist) in the audience like no other image ever could. Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography is stunning and breath-taking in that very literal way of having stolen the wind right out of my lungs.

The walk itself, as Petit always delights in telling us, is completely illegal and planned in secret. This part of the story almost feels like a heist movie, between the planning and the recruitment of compatriots. But once Petit puts one foot to the Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.05.24 AMwire, it becomes a work of art. Early morning commuters stop traffic to look up, look waaaaaaaaay up at these buildings newly erected, not yet a beloved part of the city’s skyline, and suddenly they’re injected with life and meaning.

Is this movie Zemeckis’ love letter to the twin towers? It’s quite a tribute, handled with love and respect. The movie may be uneven, and a little brainless, but it is without a doubt visionary, if only you dare not only to keep your eyes open, but to do what the wire walker must never do: to look down.

 

 

 

Anyone have a problem with heights? Has it stopped you watching certain movies before?

Advertisements

35 thoughts on “The Walk

  1. Kristine @ MumRevised

    I have to say I love the high wire walkers. I am often quoting the Wallenda broadcast over the Grand Canyon “at least there is a paramedic at the bottom” comment that CNN regurgitated again and again. (Presumably with nothing but a stethoscope to pronounce him dead). I didn’t see the original documentary of the walk. Should I watch that first?

    Like

    Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      No, you’ll definitely get enough background from the movie. And since the walk was done in secret, there was never any video footage of it anyway – there are only stills in the documentary. The movie is what captures that particular craziness so well!

      Like

      Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      That’s absolutely right. You’ll lose the whole effect at home. However, if you can’t take heights, then maybe home is your better option. AND the price to see an IMAX 3D movie is really ridiculous. So there’s that.

      Like

      Reply
  2. Carrie Rubin

    The movie doesn’t really draw me, but the 3D possibilities of it do, so I’ll probably check it out. I’m afraid of heights, and I’ve heard for those movie-goers, it’s quite the thrill-fest.

    I saw The Martian over the weekend and loved it. But I don’t think it needed to be in 3D. Or maybe I just got so engrossed in the story, I didn’t notice.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      I felt the same about The Martian. I think it’ll watch just as well at home and it didn’t really make huge use of the 3D. But I loved it so much!

      And yes, The Walk may be hard for some, but looking away or closing your eyes should put things right again, if you can stand to miss a moment.

      (Like you, The Walk didn’t initially grab me.)

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. kmSalvatore

    I have such a fear of heights Jay, no way can I see this, when the commercial comes on, I get up and leave the l.room.
    Every few years I convince myself that I’m not… And I find out the hard way… I am.. I am !!!!!

    Like

    Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      I’m not afraid of heights so much as afraid of falling from them.
      This sounds like a joke, but it’s not.
      I am okay with heights as long as I’m okay with the thing that’s holding me up there. If I feel safe, I can enjoy the height. But anything that’s wobbly or rickety or old, or put together by carnies? No way.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. kmSalvatore

        I tried going into a lighthouse , I got to the 5 the stair of the spiral stairwell and froze and broke out in a cold sweat… I tried the BIG Ferris wheel in Niagara Falls.. I thought I was gonna die!! Nope, not me no more ;)They all feel like a high wire act to me Jay😓

        Like

  4. DotedOn

    I’m not sure I could see this movie 🙂
    And I’m glad I wasn’t in NY that day :D… I can’t keep my eyes open when I see those wire walkers. I need to see them safe on the ground 🙂 (walking, not smashed :D)

    Like

    Reply
  5. Birgit

    I would love to see the documentary first (ever since reading about it on Fisti’s (Drew) blog. I am terrified of heights and yet compelled to see this at the Imax

    Like

    Reply
  6. Everyday Adventures at Home... Hurrah!

    I loved the original “Man on Wire”! It’s one of the few films I’ve done a post about on my blog, but I was not aware of this new film coming out, so thanks for this post! I would definitely want to see it. My only concern would be that I am pretty sensitive to camera “shake”, so seeing it in Imax would be an experiment for me! Worth the risk, though, I will check it out. 😉 take care!

    Like

    Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      It was just out last week in limited release. I expect it will get more of a roll-out soon. There’s not too much shake, it’s fairly smooth but the effects really recreate the height, so you might find yourself reacting to that, and no one wants to sit through a movie that’s making them feel unwell!

      Like

      Reply
  7. BroadBlogs

    Wow! That sounds like something to see. I’m amazed that anyone could do that, Repeatedly! And come out alive.

    By the way, I’ve never understood what cinematography is. Can you explain?

    Like

    Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      Good question! The cinematographer is one of the most important people on a set, because he or she makes the movie look the way it does. Referred to on set as the DP (director of photography), she’s in charge of things like the lighting crew and the key grips (those are the people who make the camera move fluidly, so they make the scaffolding or the tracks that move a camera about the set). They would help make decisions on how saturated the colours will look, how dark the sets may appear, setting the tone for the movie. They also inflence the shot list – the angle used, and the size of the shot (will this be a sweeping shot, or are we pulled in close to a character?). After studying the script, the DP would work with the director to use light and camera work to create mood and atmosphere. She puts a lot of time into designing every shot – something we shouldn’t even notice when we’re watching – whether the camera moves from up to down, or down to up, or where an actor is in relation to the lighting, an inch that way, or an inch and a half. What we’re left with is an impression. Was this film beautiful? Did it feel like you were watching a living piece of art?

      Like

      Reply
  8. Brittani

    Ha. I said the same thing in my review about it being a love letter to the towers. When Philippe casually jumps off the side of the tower to hide from the guard I about had a heart attack. That film really made it feel like you were high up.

    Like

    Reply
  9. joelnox

    I am not one for heights, just looking at a couple of the pictures in this review gave me a sinking feeling in my stomach, so I won’t be seeing this-at least not in the theatre. I also hate 3-D, it usually gives me a headache, but if any film is meant for it this one would seem to be the one.

    My aversion to heights actually kept me from watching the doc that is the basis for this film until I decided to watch it for a discussion on Oscar winning documentaries I was following. The doc was fascinating and Petit is quite the character, I agree JGL is an excellent choice, but it was focused more on the task of achieving the feat than the walk itself. This sounds like a great deal of it is geared towards the sensation of being there on the wire with him. That makes sense from an entertainment prospective but I’d never make it past the edging out on to the wire the first time.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, the set up in the movie’s a bit slow but in the movie he’s out there a good 20 minutes (it was more like 45 in real life, he traversed many times!).

      Like

      Reply
  10. reocochran

    I may see this if you can see it in one dimensional, Jay. I like the chsracter, plot and the man who was in “Inception,” too. I get nauseous with dizzying heights, have tried 3-D twice and cannot do it. The old Cedar Point I-Max theater was just taken down to put in another ride up but dates who would visit me when I lived and worked there 2 summers (high school and college) insisted we go into this, to cool off and possibly kiss in the dark. I had to close my eyes when the eagle went through the Grand Canyon!

    Like

    Reply
  11. SLIP/THROUGH - Dan

    Great review. I need to bust it down to the Imac quick. Sounds like a real spectacle to behold. And it is Zemeckis! Loved the documentary though. Thay guy is playfully crazy in personality too. I didn’t expect Levitt to get cast.

    Like

    Reply
  12. Khalid

    I dont know why but for some reason I lost interest in this movie when I heard JGL’s French accent and I’ve even seen Man On Wire and know that Petit also had a similar accent.
    I guess I know it cant possibly be better than Man On Wire

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s