Man on Wire


Man on Wire

Critics Consensus

James Marsh's doc about artist Phililppe Petit's artful caper brings you every ounce of suspense that can be wrung from a man on a (suspended) wire.



Total Count: 158


Audience Score

User Ratings: 30,095
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Movie Info

August 7, 1974. A young French man named Philippe Petit stepped out on a wire suspended between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. He danced on this wire for an hour with no safety net before he was arrested for what has become to be known as the "artistic crime of the century."


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Critic Reviews for Man on Wire

All Critics (158) | Top Critics (47) | Fresh (158)

  • It all makes for an absorbing, mischievously amusing yarn, whose climax unfolds with unexpected emotional force.

    May 7, 2009
  • In this exhilarating, palm-moistening documentary by British filmmaker James Marsh (Wisconsin Death Trip), the twin towers are back to celebrate one of their finest moments.

    Nov 10, 2008 | Full Review…
  • The erasure of the towers adds poignance and irony to a documented event that is inherently thrilling and beautiful.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: A
  • James Marsh's documentary is the story of the dreaming and scheming that went into the walk, which I hesitate to call a stunt. It seems too glib a word for a feat that inspired the poignant complex of emotions uncovered by Marsh's narrative.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Though we know how it ends, it unfolds with suspense. And though it lacks any discussion of the towers' destruction, it succeeds as a tribute to their birth.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's a story worth telling, yes -- but after 90 minutes, it's hard not to wonder if the storyteller can talk about anything else.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: B-

    Noel Murray

    AV Club
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Man on Wire

  • Jan 22, 2016
    Based on the memoir of Philippe Petit, Man on Wire tells the extraordinary story of one of the most daring artistic coups of the 20th century. In this documentary Petit and his team recount their 1974 exploit of rigging a high-wire between the World Trade Center towers (still under construction at the time) in order for Petit to give a wire walking performance. In addition to the interviews, original footage and re-enactments are used to help complete the story; showing how the team planned and trained for the event (infiltrating construction crews, building scale models, etc.). However, the filmmakers don't explore the larger context; the impact that the event had. Still, Man on Wire is a remarkably compelling look at a feat of incredible ingenuity and audacity.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 08, 2014
    A magnificent feat told by its own participants. Emotionally engaging and exhilarating.
    Pierluigi P Super Reviewer
  • Jul 31, 2013
    An unnecessarily prolonged documentary, forcefully expanded twice its required length in order to tell a story much more interesting than its cinematic execution. The emotional fillers do not add anything to the story. I appreciate the balance maintained between seriousness and the comedic moments: anecdotes are anecdotes. The commentary regarding how an intrepid pursuit of a life dream that does not fit into the liberalism structure of our economy and the conservative laws around the world is cataloged as "guilty" under the charges of "trespassing" and "disorder behavior" is amusing. We saw the inspirational message of never giving up, of not allowing ourselves to live restricted to rules, etc., coming from miles away. But how can I buy it? A fearless man is recommending me to evolve an intrepid mentality and break borders. He should have also made people remember that such process should not necessarily lead to illegal actions, life-risking activities or simply achievements that surpass average standards, because no profession or ocupation is better than the other, or more admirable. Wrongfully, the entire story is called at the very end a "love story", because thanks to that typical fanatism that people have for worshipping deeds like that of Philippe, he scored and got a girl, resulting also in sequences of unnecessary graphic sexuality, maybe to remind us of the naughty French spirit? It is indeed a love story, but to a dream come true. The Academy choosing this average documentary over Herzog's work is actually more fearless than Philippe's deed! I rest my case with that statement. 58/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • May 28, 2013
    A stuntman/performer dreams up a stunt impossible to ignore in the modern day world full of been there, done that. True enough, I wondered what's the big deal, "a guy on a tightrope", blah, blah, blah, yada, yada. Fueling these thoughts, the man himself, Monsieur Petit, seems a shameless attention hog, one whom it inadvertently pleases one to ignor. But then, the stunt itself ... jaw droppingly, utterly un-friggen-believable! See it.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer

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