Sometimes I feel I am pretty much walking a tightrope. Every day. There's a Rufus Wainwright song, Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk where Rufus sings about lessons for walking on tightropes. He's not wrong.
And then today, I actually see someone walking a tightrope. For real. And playing the violin (quite nicely) at the same time. In fairness, this is one impressive talent. This man needs fame and fortune from Britain's Got Talent. Move aside Paul Potts, a singing embryo and a Hitler impersonator playing the spoons whilst painting a replica of the Sisteenth Chapel ceiling.
Tightrope walking brings me nicely onto my favourite film of 2008 (and I seriously doubt I will see a film from now until the 31st of December that will better it). It was Man On Wire, the documentary about the wonderfully eccentric, yet genius Frenchman Philippe Petit, who decided to tightrope walk between the tops of the WTC Twin Towers in 1974. It's a fantastic film, filled with moments of poignancy, suspence, disbelief, wonderment and humour. Petit is part insane, but mostly part genius. He is a charming, exuberant character, who adores and embraces the slightly bizarre in life with such gusto, he makes you glad to be alive just watching him. And this passion he bursts with for wire walking, is so evident, you begin to feel it too.
Director James Marsh does such a great job with this film. Interspersed with interview clips of the main people involved, are footage and clips from Petit's exploits in the 1970s, along with little reconstructions. It all gels marvelously. There's also some insightful footage of the construction of the towers, which make you appreciate the creation of such magnificent structures. And where Marsh possibly achieves the most is the fact the fate of the Twin Towers is never mentioned. We all know what happened. There is a strong poignancy there, it is all dealt with dignity. But the subtlety is perfect. The film is a testament to the greatness of the city itself.
Philippe Petit is not subtle however. And neither was his achievement. It's an incredible story, and an incredible film. What he did was almost a piece of art work, even if it did result in his arrest. We're all walking tightropes sometimes, but Petit's lesson is to embrace life and follow what you have to do.
See the trailer for Man On Wire here.