Jan 6, 2009

On DVD: Man On Wire

Tight-roping. Suspending yourself in virtual mid-air while an audience looks up at you admirably. What a perfect gig for a narcissist like Philippe Petit.

Late in this crowd-pleasing documentary, there is a still of Petit infamously walking across the twin towers of the World Trade Center sneering a smirk on his face as the NYPD wait for him to cross. Like a child, or post-Boho 60's pseudo-radical, Petit plays cat and mouse with the law. Unintentionally, this scene is symbolic of Petit's true character. He pretends to be a pure artiste-bad boy, but as he balances between these two towers of international commerce he knows this stunt will bring him overnight fortune.

After Petit finishes this act, he's hounded by the media with questions, yet Petit feigns disinterest with an upturned wink of the eye. Like most of the maneuvers by this Frenchman, there is always the calculated signs of sneaky self-promotion. It's also betrayal. You can see this in the tears of his former best mate Jean-Louis and in the regret of his ex-girlfriend Annie.

These were people who gave full efforts, put their reputations on the line, and stood in the way of danger for someone who was doing something admittedly remarkable, but really rather irrelevant. Yet what does Petit do after accomplishing his "dream"? He goes and f*cks the first local that whispers in his ear while his friends strain their necks looking for him.

I've given up on trying to make sense of the enthusiasm that surrounds documentaries these days. The formula towards acclaim seems simple enough. Either: A.) Be sensational - glorify daredevils, pedophiles, murderers, bestiality, etc. OR B.) Have talking heads spout leftist politics. These two options will cinch you red carpet rollouts to festivals and just maybe an Academy Awards nomination.

If you doubt my claim that Philippe Petit is a flaming narcissist, watch the interview with him on the special features section of the DVD.]

-The Man With No Name


jervaise brooke hamster said...

You said it was "something admittedly remarkable but really rather irrelevant" but i genuinely believe that its the single most incredible thing that any hu-girl being has ever done in the last 5000 years of recorded hu-girl history. I suppose the only thing that would ever top it would be if someone could somehow miraculously bring Heather O`Rourke back to life.

teddy crescendo said...

If he`d somehow been able to rig a reliable safety net it would have STILL been THE most incredible thing that any hu-girl being has ever done in the last 5000 years of recorded world history, just to put into perspective again just how totally astounding it was.