Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'The Walk' Re-Creates Historic Feat

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'The Walk' Re-Creates Historic Feat

Article excerpt

Philippe Petit laid his life on the line. And the wire.

When the French aerialist shares his plan to stretch a cable between the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center, his mentor tells him to wear a safety belt under his clothing.

Absolutely not, Mr. Petit says. That would make the insanely dangerous and ambitious stunt meaningless.

"You told me you can't lie on stage. The audience will always know what's in your heart."

The audience for "The Walk," opening in IMAX 3-D today and everywhere Oct. 9, will suspect what's in the hearts of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and director Robert Zemeckis. An unbridled enthusiasm for a subversive, sensational, never-to-be-duplicated performance that also was celebrated in the 2008 Oscar-winning documentary "Man on Wire."

It used archival footage, re-enactments (including with Bellevue native Paul McGill) and interviews to show how and why the Frenchman earned headlines around the world on Aug. 7, 1974, a day before President Nixon announced he would resign from office.

"The Walk" opens with Petit (Mr. Gordon-Levitt) narrating his own story as a Parisian street performer, juggler and tightrope walker who was 8 years old when he first was transfixed by the sight of a wire walker. His father dismisses his interest with, "My son, the circus clown," but Philippe finds a mentor in Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), patriarch of the Omankowsky Troupe.

The movie tracks Philippe as he dreams of fixing a rope between the then-new skyscrapers, finds his first accomplice in girlfriend Annie (French-Canadian actress Charlotte Le Bon), assembles a team of right-hand men and misfits and prepares for a walk 110 stories in the air with no net to catch him if he falls.

"The Walk" spends much of the first 90 minutes of the two-hour movie building to the event itself; it's a caper film, with the prize not sacks of cash or mounds of diamonds but the realization of a dream. …

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