Premiering “The Walk” at the New York Film Festival, Zemeckis says, was the natural fit. Using expert visual effects, 3-D imagery, and a convincing performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film deftly recreates the vertiginous sight of Petit performing his act 110 stories above the ground. The official movie synopsis notes that “The Walk” is a big screen cinema and the audience will have a feeling of reaching the clouds as a result of innovative photo-realistic techniques and IMAX 3D wizardry, reported Collider.
The extended wire walking sequence is at once astounding, handsome – and excruciating. The rest of the cast isn’t quite as memorable beyond the aforementioned moments with Le Bon and Kingsley.
“When he described the walk to me it was in technical detail rather than emotions and I think the reason is there isn’t a great way to articulate those emotions”.
I always thought the Twin Towers were ugly. And because he believed that I would, I started to believe that I would.
Zemeckis said he wasn’t initially aware of Petit’s death-defying act in 1974, but learned of it after coming across the children’s book The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, by Mordicai Gerstein.
Gordon-Levitt mostly convinces as the capricious and impulsive madman Petit – the actor’s French is surprisingly impressive, but his Parisian accent filtered through English often leaves something to be desired. He’s an excellent wire-walker as well.
Indeed, Gordon-Levitt plays Philippe Petit with so much joy and frantic French energy that he comes off as a mix between Gene Kelly and a younger Maurice Chevalier.
Atop the towers, a ragtag conspirator fires an arrow between the roofs so a 140-foot-long wire can be strung between them.
Eight times, he crossed that wire, 1,350 feet above the streets of lower Manhattan. When I walked out, I had to walk back to get back. But I never knew that gazing at them from a Radiohead concert at Liberty State Park a week before 9/11 was the last time I’d see them standing. We mixed it up like any great magician or illusionist would do.
We worked really hard to put the audience up on those towers and on the wire. Then, at the dentist one day, he sees in a magazine a picture of the soon-to-be-completed World Trade Center.
Schwartz: I’m from New York, so it was just a piece of the landscape….
With virtual reality and other immersive experiences factoring so heavily in modern conversations about media, it’s easy to look to those new forms as the best ways to transport audiences into new worlds, but a movie like The Walk actually serves as a strong counter-argument. Watching Bob direct was an enormous learning experience for me.
Joseph Gordon Levitt Walks a Tight Wire to the Oscars in… While much of these Parisian sequences may be based on Petit’s real life, trite stereotypes turn them into nothing more than an ignorant American take on French culture.
With One World Trade Center opening late past year in the spot that was once occupied by the Twin Towers, Gordon-Levitt also noted that he commemorated the area by walking the distance between the site’s two memorial pools, where the towers stood before the September 11 attacks.
The actor says the man today is different from the one who mesmerized New York. It’s the fabric of New York City, for all of us, whether we were there or whether we were just looking at them from afar. But he also admitted that he “couldn’t bring myself to the memorial until after we finished this film”.
An ode to artistic achievement, dreaming the impossible dream and even a surprisingly moving tribute to the World Trade Center towers, “The Walk“, in its final moments, even borders on something transcendent; a love letter to New York in the sky writ large.