Saturday, 26 March 2016

The Walk (5 Stars)

"All artists are anarchists to some degree".

As I've already told my readers, I consider this to be the best English language film of 2015. It's incomprehensible to me that it didn't win any Academy Awards. Maybe the problem is that it stood in the shadow of the highly acclaimed documentary "Man on Wire" which was made only a few years earlier. It's true, the two films do recount the same major event and what led up to it. As a dramatisation, "The Walk" is painfully accurate, so it is very similar to the content to the documentary. The differences aren't in what the films show, but in what they leave out.

I need to watch the two films back to back to make a full comparison, but here are a few things that stuck out.

"The Walk" describes Philippe Petit's training as a wire walker under the guidance of Papa Rudy, who isn't mentioned at all in "Man on Wire".

Philippe's walk across the Sydney Harbour bridge towers isn't mentioned in "The Walk".

Philippe's relationship with Annie is shown in more details in "The Walk".

In "Man on Wire" Philippe's first visit to New York is described as a failed attempt to walk the towers. In "The Walk" he only goes there to check out the towers. I'm sure that "Man on Wire" is more accurate, but it's easy to reconcile the two stories. Philippe went to New York naively expecting to walk the towers at short notice, but when he was there he realised how big the task was and made plans for his second visit.

In "The Walk" we see that Philippe met his last helpers only two days before the walk. This isn't obvious in "Man on Wire".

The documentary states that Philippe walked between the towers eight times in a period of 45 minutes. "The Walk" is less specific, and it shows only five crossings.

In "The Walk" it seems that Philippe only intended to cross between the towers once, then changed his mind. No mention of this is made in the documentary. My suspicion is that he intended to cross more than once, but he was prepared to stop if he had too many difficulties on the first crossing.

In "The Walk" Philippe's sexual encounter with the unnamed woman he met outside the courthouse is omitted.

Philippe's encounter with the bird is omitted in "Man on Wire". This is only a trivial event, not worth mentioning in a documentary, but in a dramatisation it makes Philippe seem messianic.

Which of the two films should you watch? My answer is simple: watch both! If you really need to choose, watch "The Walk", as it's the more entertaining of the two films. If you intend to watch both, watch "The Walk" first. If you watch the documentary second, you'll see that it confirms some of the things that seem outlandish are true, such as Philippe running around naked on the roof of the South Tower.

Philippe salutes the great city of New York.

Millions stand on the ground, but only one man is in the sky.

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