The Walk (2015)
A review by Shlomoh Sherman
November 5, 2015

Title: The Walk (2015)
Plot Summary: In 1974, high-wire artist Philippe Petit recruits a team of people to help him realize his dream: to walk the immense void between the World Trade Center towers.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writers: Robert Zemeckis (screenplay), Christopher Browne (screenplay)
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Guillaume Baillargeon, Ben Kingsley
Plot Keywords: new york city - 1970s - skyscraper - tightrope walker - frenchman abroad
Taglines: A true story.
Genres: Adventure - Biography - Drama - Thriller
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)
Rated PG for thematic elements involving perilous situations, and for some nudity, language, brief drug references and smoking
Country: USA
Language: English - French
Release Date: October 9, 2015 (USA)
Also Known As: To Walk the Clouds
Filming Locations: Montréal, Québec, Canada
Budget: $35,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $1,560,299 (USA) (October 2, 2015)
Gross: $9,878,767 (USA) (October 23, 2015)
Company Credits: Production Co: ImageMovers, Mel's Cite du Cinema, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE)
Runtime: 123 min


When the documentary, MAN ON WIRE, came out in 2008, I was fortunate to have seen it. This documentary was the filming of the real events of August 7, 1974 when tightrope walker Philippe Petit, a French wire walker, juggler, and street performer, illegally spent 45 minutes walking, dancing, kneeling, and lying on a wire he and friends strung between the rooftops of the Twin Towers. Some have called it "the artistic crime of the century."

This film, THE WALK, is a dramatization of that wonderous event, based on Philippe Petitt's book, TO REACH THE CLOUDS, which tells a true story of the early days of the Twin Towers. Those Twin Towers have been lovingly recreated by Robert Zemeckis, the director of Forrest Gump, Cast Away and Back to the Future, among many others.

The film prepares us for the New York City event by showing us Philippe's 1971 walk between the towers of the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

The film is emotionally charged and panaramic in scope. Talk about keeping you on the edge of your seat. It is not only watching the realistic recreation of the daring feat by this 25 year old Frenchman as he walks back and forth across the thin wire for over a half hour that quickens the heart but watching the fascinating and ingenious ways that Petit and his accomplices evaded being caught by the police before beginning his walk.

Petit and his friends must act quickly since the Towers are nearing completion, and attempting the feat will be impossible once the structures are completed and open for business.

Sony Pictures Entertainment reviewer wrote: "The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center remain, always, an iconic vision of New York City, as well as the indomitable symbol of soaring ambition, vision, and the spirit of humanity throughout the world."

The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center captured the imagination of many movie makers and were seen in many movies such as the Jessica Lange version of KING KONG, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, and the Nicolas Cage film, WORLD TRADE CENTER.

This film has truly added to their legend, especially for those of us who experienced them in our lives as citizens of that great city which never sleeps. Philippe Petit and Robert Zemeckis have endowed it with their own touch of grandeur.

The special effects and the modern technology which make the time and the event appear so realistic are emotionally overwhelming.

It goes without saying that an attempt of this sort can now never be replicated.

Initially Petit had planned to simply walk across the abyss between the Towers which would have taken just a few moments. However, the appearence of the New York police atop both towers, threatening him with arrest, kept him walking back and forth between them for three quarters of an hour. Despite the height of the towers and the strong winds blowing at 1,362 feet and the fact that the towers themselves move with the winds and the constant harangues of the policemen, Petit managed not to lose his balance even when he did what no tight wire walker should ever do, look down at the street over 1300 feet below.

The audience knows that when the Walk is completed, Philippe will be arrested but I won't be a spoiler and tell you how the police and the New York Jusice system handled the matter.

The acting is good and the cinematography is excellent. It's amazing how realistic the film makers have made this production. Against the background of the dangerous walk is the love story between Philippe and his girl friend, Annie. Ironically although the concept of the Walk brought the lovers together, the actual experience separates them as Philippe decides to stay in New York while Annie chooses to return to Paris to follow her own dreams.

The film is thankfully rated PG so that it is superb entertainment for audiences from 8 to 80. As the Sony Pictures Entertainment reviewer wrote: "The film is a love letter to Paris and New York City in the 1970s."

Unfortunately I watched a poor copy of the movie and probably missed many of its nuances. The French which is crucial for a full understanding of the plot was subtitled in Russian. I will have to see it again when the DVD comes out. But I would also like to see it in a theater in 3D.

I urge you to go to the theater, and take your children. They will be as enthralled as I was.

One last word. For me, as for other New Yorkers who were present when the Towers collapsed, any film involving the Towers will bring an undercurrent of sadness. But Robert Zemeckis and his crew softened my sadness by the utter sweetness with which they showed us them at the beginning of their glory.

November 5, 2015

Did You Know?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt had to wear blue contacts for the role of Philippe Petit. See more »
During the film's New York City premiere the realism of the film's climax caused some viewers to actually throw up from vertigo, at least one reviewer claimed that. Director Robert Zemeckis responded, he didn't believe that report, but "[the goal] was to evoke the feeling of vertigo. We worked really hard to put the audience up on those towers and on the wire."
First 2015 biography movie for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The second was to be Snowden (2015), but that has been pushed to 2016 due to the crowded movie scene for Dec 25th.

When the 2 officers are reaching for Philippe's hand during his walk (moments before he retreated and reclined horizontally on the wire), they are at the very edge of the building, within feet of the wire. In the very next shot they are much farther away from the wire, out of reaching distance.
The characters are seen exiting a subway station of the J M Z line. The Z line didn't exist until 1988.
The broadcast antenna on the World Trade Center's north tower wasn't added until 1978, four years after the events of the movie took place.

Philippe Petit: [Last words] Forever.
Philippe Petit: People ask me "Why do you risk death?". For me, this is life.
Philippe Petit: [French, subtitled] I lost my turtleneck!

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Ces Bottes Sont Faites Pour Marcher Adaptation of "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" Written by Lee Hazlewood Adapted by Eileen (as Eileen Goldsen) Performed by Eileen Courtesy of Mercury Records France Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt ... Philippe Petit
Charlotte Le Bon ... Annie
Ben Kingsley ... Papa Rudy
Guillaume Baillargeon ... Outdoor Café Man
Émilie Leclerc ... Outdoor Café Woman
Mark Trafford ... American Tourist
Inka Malovic ... Woman in Chalk Circle
Lucas Ramaciere ... Boy in Chalk Circle
Martin Lefebvre ... Gendarme #1
Philippe Bertrand ... Gendarme #2
Laurence Deschenes ... Young Girl with Candy
Patricia Tulasne ... Dental Office Receptionist
Jean-Robert Bourdage ... Dental Patient #1
Sylvie Lemay ... Dental Patient #2
Sasha Dominique ... Dental Patient #3
Soleyman Pierini ... Boy Petit
Jade Kindar-Martin ... Circus High Wire Performer

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