True Films

Man on Wire


When he was a boy Philippe Petit saw a sketch of the world’s tallest set of twin towers planned to be built in New York City. At that moment he imagined a wire between the two finished buildings and someone — him! — walking between them. He had never walked on a wire, and the towers were only an architect’s dream, but to Philippe it seemed that the twin towers would be built specifically for this purpose: As a platform for him to wirewalk in the sky.

The rest of Philippe’s life was spent in preparing for this inevitability. Learning how to walk a tight rope. Organizing a team. Waiting for the towers to be built. Stealthily casing them before they were completed. Planning the stunt. And then the hair-raising event itself in 1974. With an eye to both history and publicity, a lot of this prep work in the years before were filmed, and that footage is mixed with re-enactments to create an amazing document of an artist unleashed.

This compact, intense, burning grenade of a documentary — much like Philipe himself — radiates laser energy and the beauty of something as perfect as a line between two towers in the sky. It is a nearly perfect documentary. It is the only film reviewed by Rotten Tomatoes to rate 100%.

Man on Wire is an astounding, astonishing, head-shaking, exhilarating conquest of the impossible. It made my heart soar.

— KK



Man on Wire
James Marsh
2008, 94 min.
$3, Amazon Instant Video rental

Official website

Read more about the film at Wikipedia

Rent from Netflix

Available from Amazon

To Reach The Clouds Philippe Petit Paperback $4 / Hardcover $36

  • schwillis

    Hey I watched this documentary after reading about it here, what an amazing documentary, I love documentarys and this is one of the best put together ones I have ever seen. cheers.

  • Alan Tomlinson

    One thing I cannot work out is how he was able to turn round at the end of each of his seven or eight crossings while holding a pole weighing 25 kgs. Can anyone enlighten me?

  • Ian Douglas

    This film is truly one of the great visual achievements of our time; something that contains and makes one feel the depth and the urgency of the adventure of life, along with the proximity of tragedy, and of forlorn love. The tears were streaming down my face, and I still feel the emotions now.

  • mthrndr

    I liked this film, but I had one problem with it, and perhaps it was an unavoidable problem: did no one film him walking on the wire? They took a still camera up there, but no film camera? additionally, right before they begin to show images of him walking, they have footage of someone filming the wire from the ground. It zooms up between the towers and you see the wire. Did this person not film the actual event? If he did, why did they not include it? Additionally, when the movie ended, what I wanted to hear most was Philippe’s thoughts on 9/11. Maybe it was inappropriate for this film…but seeing that he once used these towers as a bridge support for an act of artistry, I thought he’d have a unique take on it.

  • Jared Booye

    Loved this documentary! Just bought it. That guy has passion.

  • Ehliyet

    This man is very brave,will read book.
    thank you for articles

  • Tom Buckner

    I recall that Timothy Ferris (author of Galaxies) said something like this in one of his books: “If a universe were designed to maximize possibilities for play and creativity, it would look like ours.” Sometimes I see things like Philippe Petit on that wire, or hear something like Fela Kuti or Vladimir Horowitz, or taste something like Guinness or chocolate, and think: why not? why couldn’t this be reason enough for everything that is? The world has so much wonder in it.