Category: TV

Man on Wire

Philippe Petit walks between NYC's World Trade Center towers on August 7, 1974. (Photo: (c) 2008 Jean-Louis Blondeau / Polaris Images)

Catching up on some recorded telly recently, I sat absolutely enthralled watching the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary, Man on Wire.

Man on Wire documents French juggler and tightrope walker Philippe Petit’s stunning (and highly illegal) wire walk between New York City’s World Trade Center towers in 1974.

I was familiar with the iconic images of Petit (see above) poised between the iconic towers (at the time still under construction) but had never given a moment’s thought to the story behind the audacious act. And what a story it is.

Director James Marsh’s film unfolds like a thriller, from the dreaming, plotting and scheming to the execution and fallout.

Petit and his motley crew of co-conspirators are depicted (through a series of re-enactments and footage shot at the time) with all the energy, optimism and brazenness of youth.

Many of Petit’s support team were interviewed for the documentary and, as they recount their roles in the amazing adventure, their eyes still light up in excitement and amazement some 30 years later.

As his dream gets closer and closer to becoming a reality, it becomes clear that Petit was either oblivious or plain unappreciative of the great efforts made and risks taken by his crew.

Like all genius, Petit’s is accompanied by tendencies towards obsession and impulsiveness. While his childlike wonder and enthusiasm inspires, it’s a childish selfishness that drives him. All big dreams come at a price and Petit’s relationships with his closest friend, photographer Jean-Louis Blondeau, and girlfriend at the time, Annie Allix, were casualties.

Blondeau’s tears and obvious pain as he recounts his falling out with Petit is the most poignant example of the enormous effect the walk had on the lives of all involved, not just Petit.

If you haven’t seen Man on Wire, go see it.

Straight white line fever

Well, the tennis came and went and I overindulged to the point of near destruction.

We spent the middle Saturday of the tournament ensconced in Rod Laver Arena and had a fantastic day watching Sam Stosur, The Fed!, and the tedious Venus Williams. She’s the slowest player between points I’ve ever seen. So frustrating to watch.

However my tennis binge was mostly due to us spending the second week of the tournament in Coffs Harbour and it being so humid that the only bearable pursuit (apart from a swim at the beach) was to plonk down on the couch with the air conditioner at my back and my in-laws’ lovely, large telly to the front.

I think I watched every one of the Fed’s matches during the Open. Oh how I love him! And this is a husband-approved love. He admits the elegance and class of the Fed (who bears an uncanny resemblance to my brother) can’t be denied. 

But all binges must come to end, usually with a crash, thud or hangover. Mine was a crash of tiredness that meant I missed most of the grand, Federer finale. After a tiring day’s travel home (two flights with a squirming 10-month-old) I settled in to watch the men’s final, thankful it was the last match I ‘had’ to watch for the next 11 months. And then, I fell asleep.

Too much of a good thing… 

(And, by the way, I didn’t once hear Gary Wilkinson’s voice during the Australian Open coverage.)

It must be summer…

If a 43 degree day wasn’t enough to remind me it’s summer, I just heard Gary Wilkinson’s voice for the first time this tennis season.

It happens but once a year: Christmas, Easter, your birthday, Gary Wilkinson on the telly. Or does it? What does he do the rest of the year? Does he have another gig, or does he just sit at home, practising his superlatives and waiting for January to roll around. I’m pretty sure he commentates the equestrian each Olympics, but that’s like saying you only work on 29 February.

What does Gazza do the rest of the year? Why do I care? I don’t really. But once a question like this pops into my head, that’s it; off to Google I go.

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