Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Walk

Year 8, Day 352 - 12/17/16 - Movie #2,494 - viewed on 9/4/16         

BEFORE: And now, here is Hollywood's dramatic take on the events seen last night in "Man on Wire".


THE PLOT: 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.

AFTER: I do remember what it was like being on top of the World Trade Center - I visited the observation deck once, and although the view of NYC was spectactular, there was always that sort of sinking feeling, like people were never meant to be up this high.  That it was irrational and irresponsible to view the world from that angle.  I remember I was nervous the whole time I was there, but I'm usually nervous whenever I'm in a tall building.  

I spent much more time in the building's lobby and basement, there was the equivalent of a shopping mall in the lower levels, lots of stores and little food shops - I used to work about a block south of the towers, and I was at that job in February 1993, at the time of the first bombing.  That was the one where someone tried to blow the buildings up with a van full of explosives, detonated in the underground garage.  Six people were killed, but the building stayed (mostly) intact - the plan was to topple the North Tower and have that knock down the South Tower, like dominoes.  Of course, we now know that would never have worked, the tower would have crumbled before it fell over.  

So this movie was hard for me to watch for two reasons, the first is the vertigo that resulted from the realistic (presumably CGI) backgrounds, simulating the view from thousands of feet up.  Seriously, I'm surprised that I didn't have that recurring dream last night where I'm falling from a large building.  I haven't had that dream in years, but I would have expected the top-floor sequences here to trigger it. 

And the second was being constantly reminded that those buildings are no longer there, that 27 years after this incident took place, those buildings would no longer be there.  I remember watching one of those post-9/11 reality shows that analyzed the attack, and it pointed out that the WTC towers were essentially two metal tubes, with steel skins from which each floor was hung.  This was great because it eliminated the need on each floor for columns, creating more office space, but terrible overall because any piercing of that metal framework would seriously endanger the overall strength of the building's outer shell.  

One presumes and hopes that they never design any buildings like this again, and that the Freedom Tower built to replace the WTC used a different technique.  By building one tower instead of two, they certainly ensured that no one would ever be able to wire-walk across the gap ever again.  After his stunt, Philippe Petit was given a lifetime pass to visit the observation deck of the WTC, which is now a worthless gift, unless they extended his privilege to the Freedom Tower as well.  

As for Petit's story, they softened the ending in the Hollywood version, in this film his relationship ends, shortly after his wire-walking coup, as she decides to return to France.  But those of us who also watched the documentary know that shortly after his arrest, Petit claims to have had a romantic encounter with a fan, a groupie of sorts (assuming that there are groupies for wire-walking) and this, as much as anything, probably signaled the end of the relationship.  So, which is true?  Or was Petit claiming to have had a quickie with a stranger, just to save face and not deal with the break-up?  Or was Petit riding so high after his accomplishment that he felt there must have been a better mate for him out there somewhere?  

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (last seen in "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For"), Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kingsley (last seen in "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb"), Clement Sibony, Cesar Domboy, Steve Valentine (last heard in "A Christmas Carol (2009)"), James Badge Dale (last seen in "The Conspirator"), Ben Schwartz (last heard in "Turbo"), Benedict Samuel, Stuart Fink, Mark Camacho (last seen in "X-Men: Days of Future Past")

RATING: 6 out of 10 fake IDs

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