Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Wire

In a previous post, I suggested pairing the films Wall-E and Koyaanisqatsi. I just finished watching another film that I think might be even more interesting to hold up against Koyaanisqatsi: Man on Wire. It's a documentary about Philippe Petit, who in August of 1974 performed for 45 minutes on a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers. 

My wife and I wanted to watch it because we had read Mordicai Gerstein's great children's book about the incident, The Man Who Walked Between the Towersto our daughters many times. The film obviously adds much more detail and background, but it also offers a powerful refutation of the message that I took from Koyaanisqatsi. That film presents humans as destructive insects whose intelligence serves only to despoil the beauty of nature. In contrast, Man on Wire looks at an individual (and his friends and collaborators), vividly dramatizing their ingenuity, originality, courage, and visionary sense of beauty. By the end, it had me (and at least one of the people interviewed in the film) in tears—of joy, recognition, appreciation.

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