Man on Wire

Image for Man on WireNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Storyville, 2008-2009 Episode 16 of 18

Duration: 1 hour, 26 minutes

Documentary based on Philippe Petit's autobiographical book To Reach the Clouds: My High Wire Walk Between the Twin Towers.

In August 1974, French wire-walker Philippe Petit spent nearly an hour walking, dancing, kneeling and lying on a wire which he and his friends had strung in secret between the rooftops of New York's Twin Towers. Six years of intense planning, dreaming and physical training fell into place that morning.

Already an accomplished wire-walker, Petit had caught sight of an article about the planned construction of the Twin Towers while in a dentist's waiting room in 1968, and at that moment an obsession was born. He spent every waking moment since that day plotting the details of his walk (which he called 'le coup') and gathered a team of people around him to assist in the planning.

Petit's preparation was expert, thorough and top secret: he took precise measurements and even aerial photographs to help him construct models of the rigging; learned about the physical effects of the wind on the swaying of the buildings; even created fake ID cards and spied on office workers to plan how best to gain access to the towers without arousing suspicion. On that August morning, his dream was realised.

Using contemporary interviews, archival footage and dramatic reconstructions, the film tells the story of this extraordinary feat, and also of Petit's previous walks between the towers of Notre Dame in Paris, and of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

  • The Culture Show Extra

    The Culture Show Extra

    Philippe Petit discusses Man On Wire in an exclusive interview with Mark Kermode for The Culture Show Extra.

    Watch Man on Wire: Extra
  • Photo: World Trade Center

    Photo: World Trade Center

    Philippe Petit stands atop the World Trade Center.

  • Photo: Sydney Harbour Bridge

    Photo: Sydney Harbour Bridge

    Philippe Petit high-wire walks across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Credits

Himself
Philippe Petit
Himself
Jean Francois Heckel
Himself
Jean-Louis Blondeau
Herself
Annie Allix
Himself
David Forman
Himself
Alan Welner
Himself
Mark Lewis
Philippe - drama reconstructions
Paul McGill
Jean Louis - drama reconstructions
David Demato
Annie - drama reconstructions
Ardis Campbell
Jean Francois - drama reconstructions
Aaron Haskell
David - drama reconstructions
Shawn Dempewolff-Barrett
Alan - drama reconstructions
David Roland Frank
Director
James Marsh

Broadcasts

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