Sports – Films – Reviews – Life Stories – Video Games It's all here on The Rif Files.
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ben Kingsley & Charlotte Le Bon
If I asked you what happened on September 11th 2001, you would instantly conjure up memories of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. Fourteen years on and it still breaks my heart whenever I think back to that day. My heart goes out to anyone who lost their lives or loved ones on that day.
If I were to ask you what happened on 7th August 1974, you’ll be stumped. Not a clue, right? Well, that was the day when Philippe Petit walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers. I was aware of the event, saw pictures of it but didn’t know anything about the backstory or the planning behind it. This film fills in the gaps.
As a young boy growing up in France, Philippe Petit (Levitt) dreams of performing death defining feats. He develops his craft on the streets of Paris with public displays of his tightrope act, but he yearns for something more than that. He’s searching for that one act that will define him forever. Petit finds his answer during a trip to the dentist when he reads an article in a magazine about the creation of the World Trade Centre in New York. When completed, the Twin Towers would be the tallest buildings in the world (it makes me sad just typing that now that there no longer in existence). This is all the inspiration that Petit needs. Together with the help of his team, Petit risks his life to pull off the impossible.
I wasn’t expecting much from this but wow. This is arguably one of the best films I’ve seen in a long, long time. Visually, it’s a masterpiece. The story is captivating, the acting is top class, plus there’s the romance and some comedy thrown in too. What more do you want? It’s worth pointing out that Philippe Petit personally trained Joseph Levitt on how to walk a tightrope. He also taught him how to speak French too. So whenever you see Levitt walking across the tightrope, that isn’t GCI guys, it’s the real deal (obviously aside from the twin tower scenes). Levitt provides narration in a breaking the forth wall kind of way. He asks us to remember 1974, so the narration is taking place sometime in the future but with a young version of Petit. I guess this takes place outside of time and space, where Petit is forever young and the Towers stand tall. It’s kind of like something from a Disney fantasy film, but don’t let that put you off. It works; Levitt has the charisma and screen presence to pull it off. It doesn’t come off as out of place at all.
The planning out the tightrope between the two towers is like something out of Ocean’s Eleven or my favourite TV show of all time, The Hustle. It’s planned out like a military operation. Films based on real life events tend to use their creative licence so how much of it is true I do not know. I’ve actually gone out and bought the book ‘To Reach the Clouds’, written by Philippe himself just so I can read from his experience.
As for the actual tightrope scene, I might be a bit over the top but it’s going to go down as one of the most iconic moments in cinema history. It’s that damn good. I want to point out that I went to see this in 3D, I’m never the one to fall for the 3D gimmick but, it needs to be said, you NEED to see this in 3D. Its tailor made for the 3D experience. When you see Philippe on the high wire, wind and distant traffic noises are added to the CGI to give the viewer the feeling of being 110 stories up in the air and with moving camera angles, the experience is both beautiful and realistic. If this was released in standard, it would have been a missed opportunity. My God, imagine if this was out in 4D?
I started off this review talking about 9-11; the film pays tribute to the event without acknowledging it. I left the screening feeling immensely satisfied with the experience and it will make you appreciate the existence of the Twin Towers even more.
It’s a feel good story which portrays the message that anything is possible and even the biggest of dreams can come true proving that you’re really to work hard at it. Already I’ve made plans to make a second and third viewing.
It wouldn’t be unrealistic to think that this film will make headlines come Oscar season.
My pick for film of the year!
Rating: ***** (Top of the Pops)