Art Engenders Empathy
The ultimate way in which art can be political is if it engenders empathy, which is the thing that politicians can’t seem to do. If you feel like you know someone because you’ve spent two hours chronicling their life and story or you’ve seen some movie that gets you under your skin and in your heart, you can’t dismiss them as Other anymore.
Just watched SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD on Netflix, for the second time (Steve Carell and Keira Knightley.) Really like that movie. Simple. A little bit of emotion at the end. End of the world movies always make the characters sort out what is most important, and also the people watching them do the same. ARMAGEDDON, DEEP IMPACT, even TITANIC. Love ’em all.
The word on the cover of the DVD box perfectly describes this movie: “exhilarating.”
James Marsh’s documentary of the tight-rope heist of Philippe Petit is something to behold.
On August 7th, 1974 Philippe Petit and his motley crew surreptitiously rigged a wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City…and he walked across that wire, and danced across that wire, and ran across that wire–eight times, over the course of almost an hour, taunting the police.
He was up so high, the crowd below could barely make him out.
Technically what he did was a crime, but certainly it was one of the most wonderful crimes ever committed.
This beautiful film is tensely exciting and extremely interesting, painting as it does a portrait of the 1970s era in which Philippe’s Petit’s greatest high wire act was performed.
The film follows Philippe’s progression toward the twin towers–first performing in the streets of France, then crossing two points on a cathedral.
In a way, this film is a time-travelling way for Americans to get the World Trade Center back–September 11th is never mentioned.
Our attention is held from the first shot to the last–the wire is stretched across the length of the film, and the emotional climax is well worth the wait.
“If you want something, nothing is impossible.” –Philippe Petit.
If you want to see a great documentary movie, rent this the first chance you get: MAN ON WIRE.