Philippe Petit: The Truth

Well I have been going back to the beginning of our blog, reading every post and commenting on all of them that I feel I have something to say, and I found that everyone mention Philippe Petit’s betrayal of his friends after he achieved his dream.  I have some news for you.  He did not really cut ties with his friends after he walked between the towers, in fact for the filming of “Man on Wire”, it was Petit himself that had brought all of them back together on the same day to do the filming for the documentary.  I was thoroughly shocked when I had saw the movie and see Petit’s choice to leave behind his friends but only now after reading everyone’s blog posts have I decided to look into it.  According to information on he never really abandoned his friends and instead the reason the film portrayed it as such was to make it carry more meaning even if it distorts reality.

If you really think about it, the way the producer created it, he offered a greater story, as many of us had left questioning ourselves about how far are we willing to go to accomplish our dream and what can possibly happen to us after we do?  It is a relief to know that Petit was not really the Petit depicted in the film, of course he was still driven with passion and his friends did sacrifice a lot of their time to get Petit to be able to do the walk, but Petit did not take them all for granted and leave them in the dust.

A Flashback to Petit (A Video-Game Story)

So, this past week, one of my favorite videogame franchises, Assassin’s Creed, released the newest installment in the series: Assassin’s Creed Unity. I was understandably excited and, as soon as I sat down to play it, my first instinct was to explore the absolutely breath-taking rendition of Paris that the game was set in. These were some of the best graphics I had ever seen ever! Ubisoft, the franchise’s developer, is known for constructing the settings as close to real life as possible, using the actual blueprints.

A rendition of Notre Dame in Assassin's Creed: Unity.

A rendition of Notre Dame in Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

Now, as anyone familiar with Assassin’s Creed will know, the game involves a lot of climbing, clambering and parkour. As I was traversing the rooftops of Paris, I spotted a particularly high cathedral; only when I had gotten to the top of one of its two towers, did I realize that this was none other than the great Notre Dame cathedral itself! This virtual rendition had taken almost close to two years to construct and was one of the most accurate models in the entire game! As my character sat atop the tower, another thought raced across my mind: these two towers was one of the places that Phillipe Petit, on his wire-walking adventures, had crossed. Although I have never visited Paris, this beautiful rendition of Notre Dame had given me an entirely new perspective on one of Petit’s walks; there was an intense sensation of wonder to the entire moment and led me to appreciate not just the amazing hard work that the designers of the game had put into creating such a historical structure, but of the history that was attached to this building that we, the players, were allowed to experience.

Philippe Petit: The Human Definition of Dream

Philippe Petit definitely must be one of the most driven men in history.  His entire life from the point he saw the construction of the towers in a paper in the dentist office, to his achievement of walking across the towers, was consumed by the desire to just do it.  It is impressive how much practice he had done on other great public places knowing just what the consequences would be such as getting arrested.  The sad thing is that he could not do it alone and he essentially just used all of his friends throughout the entire process.  His girlfriend had even mentioned that she had to put her own dreams aside while she was in the relationship.  She had to help him realize his own dream before hers and then after the success and fulfillment of that dream he left her for someone else.

This was not only what happened to her but also to all of his closest friends.  All of them had contributed to Petit’s success and realization of his dream but all were essentially abandoned after the completion of his dream.  While he was granted amnesty for his act that was considered to be illegal, his friends were all kicked out of the United States and were not allowed to come back.  Petit did not even do anything to make amends with his friends.  It truly was sad to watch one of his long time friends start to cry during the documentary, because of the memories that are all now almost faded.  A big part of his life was to be able to help his friend accomplish his dream and then once it was done it was all over for him, the friendship and this big role.

I also can not imagine how Philippe reacted at the end of it all.  I understand he still performs publicly his art of tightroping but there is nothing else to really strive for.  After accomplishing such an immense dream, what else is there really to do in life?  It seems he has made peace with it but I can not imagine how he would be able to view his life in the same way as he did before his walk between the towers.

Reactions to Man on Wire

Damn. If I had the talent to walk on wire/cable at even 10 floors above ground level, I wouldn’t be here composing this post right now.

Philippe Petit is probably one of those guys where you just don’t have the correct adjective to describe him. Crazy? Brave? Idiotic? Heroic? To perfectly plot this whole event, and not get caught is definitely an incredible feat. I mean, he wasn’t at the 10th floor, the 20th floor, but the 110th floor. What could’ve possibly been going through his mind?

What I probably most liked about the documentary was the fact that it seemed to made me feel like I was in the moment, especially when they were describing how they almost got caught and stuff. If Petit’s timing was not correct, August 7th, 1974 might’ve just been another ordinary day for all of us, and the prisons might just have an extra guy in there.

However, in exchange for his fame and glory, Petit lost his friends, lost the love of his life, lost everything he had had before August 7th, all because of the 45 mins on the top of the World Trade Center towers. I mean, I don’t know if that’s worth it.

~Christopher Chong

My reaction to “Man on Wire”

It occurs to me that Phillipe really enjoys walking on cables.

He says it’s “illegal but not hurtful” but he was said to have done it because it was like a bank robbery.

Also, when he was taken down from Notre Dame he snatched an officer’s watch.

To me, the art here lies in his fine control of his body’s position down to the hands.

On Man on a Wire

 Man on a Wire was a incredible documentary! In fact, at some points in the movie, I totally forgot that I was a watching a documentary. Some scenes were so intense, engaging, and emotional, that it might as well have been a drama. The documentary gave us a deep look into the walker, Philippe Petit. Through the interviews, and through various home-videos, we were able to realize the type of person he is. He is a dreamer, a man who is incredibly passionate about his hopes and goals. I believe that is one lesson that one should take away from watching this documentary. While I would not advise going about and breaking the law, I believe each and every one of us should have a goal or passion in life.

I truly admired the cinematography of the documentary. The mixture of black and white footage with colored footage was visually engaging and pleasing. Old footage from France and New York, provided me with a sense of what the world was like in the late 70s. Seeing footage of Petit, from his early days of tightrope walking through his grand display at the Twin Towers, caused me to feel as if i knew him his entire life. I felt as if  I grew along side him. The various interviews with all those involved with the Twin Towers project were able to provide me with multiple point of views, while still maintaining the theme that it may take a team in order to achieve one person’s dream.

One part of the movie that stood out to me was the end. I could not help but find disgust with Petit, as he allowed short lived fame to interfere with those who supported him along the way, with his friends. I felt sympathy for the one man (John I cannot remember his last name), who cried during the interview. We discussed that he cried twice for possibly two distinct reasons. The first may have been for the sheer beauty of Petit’s act, and the second may have been for losing Petit as a dear friend.