Man on Wire

Man on Wire
Man on Wire

Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Marsh
Produced by Simon Chinn
Starring Philippe Petit
Music by J. Ralph (title theme)
Michael Nyman
Cinematography Igor Martinovic
Editing by Jinx Godfrey
Studio Wall to Wall
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures (US)
Icon Productions (UK)
Diaphana Films (France)
Release date(s) January 22, 2008 (2008-01-22) (Sundance)
Running time 90 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Man on Wire is a 2008 British documentary film directed by James Marsh. The film chronicles Philippe Petit's 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center. It is based on Philippe Petit's book, To Reach the Clouds, recently released in paperback with the new title Man on Wire. The title of the movie is taken from the police report that led to the arrest (and later release) of Petit, whose performance had lasted for almost one hour. The film is crafted like a heist film, presenting rare footage of the preparations for the event and still photographs of the walk, alongside reenactments (with Paul McGill as the young Petit) and present-day interviews with the participants.

It competed in the World Cinema Documentary Competition[1] at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize: World Cinema Documentary and the World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary.[2] In February 2009, the film won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.



The film's producer Simon Chinn first encountered Philippe Petit in April 2005 on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, after which he decided to pursue him for the film rights to his book, To Reach the Clouds. After months of discussion, Petit agreed, with the condition that he would play an active, collaborative part in the making of the film. In an interview conducted during Man on Wire's run at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, director James Marsh explained that he was drawn to the story in part because it immediately struck him as "a heist movie". Marsh also commented that as a New Yorker himself, he saw the film as something to give back to the city. He said he hopes to hear people say that they will now always think of Petit and his performance when recalling the World Trade Center's twin towers.[3] Responding to questioning as to why the towers' destruction 27 years later was not mentioned in the film, Marsh explained that Philippe Petit's act was "incredibly beautiful" and that it "would be unfair and wrong to infect his story with any mention, discussion or imagery of the Towers being destroyed."[4]


Petit at the 81st Academy Awards

Man on Wire won the prestigious Special Jury Award and Audience Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival,[5] the International Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Standard Life Audience Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.[6] The film also won the Jury Prize and Audience Award in the World Cinema: Documentary competition at the Sundance Film Festival. Man on Wire is the sixth film to pick up both top awards at Sundance, and the first from outside the US.[7] In February 2009, the film won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film,[8] and Best Documentary Film in the Australian Film Critics Association Awards. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 81st Academy Awards.[9]

Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 100% of the 145 reviews they have collected have been positive. It is currently the best reviewed movie on the website. The film also received a golden tomato for best documentary of 2008.[10]

Top ten lists

The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008.[11] Movie City News shows that the film appeared in 76 different top ten lists, out of 286 different critics lists surveyed, the joint 7th "most mentions" on a top ten list of the films released in 2008.[12]


Much of the film's soundtrack is derived from the 2006 album, The Composer's Cut Series Vol. II: Nyman/Greenaway Revisited.

  1. Fish Beach - Michael Nyman (from Drowning by Numbers)
  2. History Of The Insipid - Michael Nyman (from The Libertine)
  3. Albatross - Fleetwood Mac
  4. Dreams Of A Journey - Michael Nyman (from The Piano)
  5. Time Lapse - Michael Nyman (from A Zed & Two Noughts)
  6. The Disposition Of Linen - Michael Nyman (from The Draughtsman's Contract)
  7. A Fifth of Beethoven - Walter Murphy
  8. Chasing Sheep Is Best Left To Shepherds - Michael Nyman (from The Draughtsman's Contract)
  9. An Eye For Optical Theory - Michael Nyman (from The Draughtsman's Contract)
  10. The Lark Ascending - English Northern Philharmonia (composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams)
  11. A Ramble In St. James's Park - Michael Nyman (from The Libertine)
  12. Passage de L'Egalité - Michael Nyman (from La Traversée de Paris)
  13. In The Hall Of The Mountain King - Philadelphia Orchestra (composed by Edvard Grieg)
  14. Drowning By Number 2 - Michael Nyman (from Drowning by Numbers)
  15. Trysting Fields/Sheep 'n' Tides - Michael Nyman (from Drowning by Numbers)
  16. Memorial - Michael Nyman
  17. Leaving Home (Opening Titles) - Josh Ralph
  18. Leaving Home Sunday Exploration (End Credits) - Josh Ralph
  19. Gnossienne No. 1 - Gheorghe Constantinescu (composed by Erik Satie)
  20. Gymnopédie No. 1 - Anne Queffélec (composed by Erik Satie - music also used for the DVD menu)

See also


  1. ^ "2008 Sundance Film Festival Announces Films in Competition" (PDF). 2007-11-28. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  2. ^ "2008 Sundance Film Festival Announces Awards" (PDF). 2008-01-26. 
  3. ^ Jerney Makoa (July 24, 2008). "On The Circuit: Man on Wire | Zoom In - News, Events, Training and Community for Creatives". Archived from the original on 2008-05-31. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  4. ^ Neil Smith (August 2, 2008). "BBC NEWS: Wire walk film omits 9/11 tragedy". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-08-03. 
  5. ^ "Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Announces Festival Award Winners ",
  6. ^ "Man on Wire Wins Again ",
  7. ^ "Wall to Wall Takes Two at Sundance Film Festival"
  8. ^ "Film Winners in 2009". BAFTA.,657,BA.html. Retrieved 8 February 2009. 
  9. ^ "Nominees for the 81st Academy Awards". Retrieved 12 February 2009. 
  10. ^ "Man on Wire at Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved 16 August 2008. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab "Metacritic: 2008 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved January 11, 2009. [dead link]
  12. ^ David Poland (2008). "The 2008 Movie City News Top Ten Awards". Retrieved 2009-01-25. [dead link]

External links

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