My father seemed to be impressed with Nik Wallenda’s upcoming high wire walk over Niagara Falls. It seems really boring to me. I just can’t see it as much of anything after seeing Man on a Wire a couple of years ago. So I forced my father to watch it. He was very impressed, but still looked forward to Wallenda’s walk.
The main thing I remembered about the film was that while Philippe Petit had all charges dropped against him after his walk between the Twin Towers. His co-conspirators, on the other hand, were thrown out of the country. In fact, there is a remarkable moment late in the movie where a police officer comments on the wire the group had put up, “The rigging outfit itself, it’s magnificent the way he did it.” The way he did it. Well, he didn’t do it. If he had been alone, he could not have done it. The walk required a group of committed people. But in America, all that matters is the guy in front of the camera. No one else matters.
What I most noticed this time is what an asshole Petit is. He treats his friends very badly. And I feel that to all of the people involved there was a feeling that Petit was never really much of a friend. He was a fun and interesting guy to be around. He is a symbol of a great thing they were involved in. But they can’t miss the personal relationship they had with him, because they never had a personal relationship with him in the first place.
I’m glad that people like Petit are around. He makes life interesting. But he doesn’t make it true or deep—even for those who are physically close to him. He is the personification of the lonely man on a wire pretending that he willed the wire from his mind.