A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petits daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York Citys World Trade Centers twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century".
On August 7, 1974, , a French wire walker, juggler, and street performer days shy of his 25th birthday, spent 45 minutes walking, dancing, kneeling, and lying on a wire he and friends strung between the rooftops of the Twin Towers. Uses contemporary interviews, archival footage, and recreations to tell the story of his previous walks between towers of Notre Dame and of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, his passions and friendships, and the details of the night before the walk: getting cable into the towers, hiding from guards, and mounting the wire. It ends with observations of the profound changes the walks success brought to Philippe and those closest to him.
"If they build them, I will come", paraphrases what Parisian street performer and tightrope walker thought about his ultimate dream, the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Ever since he, at age seventeen, heard about the probable building of the two towers, he had an obsession with them, most specifically in they acting as the foundations for which he could tightrope walk across at roof level. This film documents the planning and not always smooth execution of the walk he did accomplish on August 7, 1974, which ended up being more than just a straight walk from tower to tower. Part of the preparation work included doing other unsanctioned, and thus considered illegal walks, between the two towers of Notre-Dame Basilica in Paris, then the two towers of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Some of the many considerations included: putting together a support team that knew what it was doing, was reliable, and could hide their exploits from anyone in authority, which was not always easy as he had to rely on some people he didnt know before this endeavor; not only getting the necessary materials to the roofs of the two towers, but also how to string the cable between the two towers, again without detection; and other site specific issues such as building sway affecting the cable movement, and the extreme weather at that altitude. Some of his support team also had in the backs of their minds how overly litigious US authorities would react, especially if Petit did not survive this ordeal. Arguably the most important person in his support team was his then longtime girlfriend , who had to, without question, go along with him on these journeys without any discussion of what her own goals at that stage in her life may have been. The film also provides a denouement of sorts from what would arguably be the most climactic event any of the people involved would ever be a part of regardless of whatever they would do in their lives.