‘The Walk’ is breathtaking and real

The year is 1974. Everything seems white, airy, and even heavenly to Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as he lays flat against a thin wire measuring 200 ft. between the Twin Towers in the movie The Walk. Director Robert Zemeckis has the audience feeling as though they are walking alongside Petit while he makes his dangerous journey 1,350 ft. above the newly constructed World Trade Center, with the panning of the camera focusing on Petit’s feet whenever walking on his wire.

As the voice of Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) guides the audience through the movie, it gives them a sense of understanding as he explains his “coup” (his plan). He starts by telling you where and how he got the idea, before gradually telling you how he finally accomplishes his dream. With the help of Jean-Louis (Clément Sibomy) and Jeff (César Domboy) and the likes of Barry Greenhouse (Steve Valentine), Jean-Pierre (James Badge Dale), Albert (Ben Schwartz), and David (Benedict Samuel), Petit recruites the ultimate team. This is the group to help Petit become the only man to ever walk between the World Trade Center towers.

Blue contacts and a French accent make the audience believe it is not even Joseph Gordon-Levitt himself, but actually Petit in 1974, and the sporadic bursts of color ranging from the viridescent upcoming summer to the iconic crimson turtleneck Philippe Petit wears make your eyes really open. Thanks to costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb, you feel as though you are living in the 70’s with the vintage flare given by incorporating turtlenecks and bootleg jeans.

Although Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of the biggest movie stars in the industry at the moment, as he’s been leading in movies such as The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and Don Jon (2013), the meticulously detailed CG Twin Towers overshadow him. But the movie does not rush into showcasing the Twin Towers until the last 40 minutes or so. Instead, you meet Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley) and Annie Allix (Charlotte Le Bon), who help shape the movie. Papa Rudy teaches Philippe Petit everything he knows, while Annie Allix (Petit’s love interest) is his number one supporter throughout his career. With French dialect and French speaking (besides Ben Kingsley speaking Czech at times), you really feel as though you are watching the entertaining life of Philippe Petit unfold before you.

The Walk premiered at the New York Film Festival in the U.S. on Sept. 26 and followed with an early release to all IMAX theatres in the U.S. Sept. 30. Following the IMAX release The Walk opened in regular 2D and 3D on October 9.

The realness of 3D and other effects put in the film result in reports of viewers having left the cinema due to sickness of how realistic it seems. While the film relies mainly on CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery), since the Twin Towers are not still constructed, it was not overwhelming. Despite a scene with a CGI bird that looked very inanimate, all other CGI looked authentic, including the Twin Towers and the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Although Robert Zemeckis incorporates all the important aspects he could have, when it came down to actually showing footage of the real walk by Philippe Petit, it was nowhere to be found. Not only is there no footage of Philippe Petit’s actual walk, there is no recognition of the real artist or any of his colleagues.

The cinematography in The Walk is breathtaking. The director of photography, Dariusz Wolski, has the movie give the audience the feeling that they are walking across the wire themselves. The symmetry of the World Trade Center and its whole exterior is captured brilliantly. Even if the towers are computer generated, it is hard to believe that Robert Zemeckis had not actually filmed the towers himself. With the contrast of natural and green France, to vibrant and unclean New York City, the scenery of each location gave an aesthetically pleasing sight to everyone watching.

Parts of the film were unnecessary as they did not occur in the real story of Philippe Petit’s journey to make it all the way across the Twin Towers. Exaggeration of Philippe Petit getting a nail through his foot and having it bleed on the wire wasn’t factual and was unnecessary.

August 7, 1974, the date when Philippe Petit finally got to achieve his dream of stretching a wire across the towers: what everyone is waiting to watch. We finally get to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt perform across the towers in the most anticipated final 30 minutes. Watching Joseph Gordon-Levitt gracefully move along the wire made you believe it was really Petit, even more so than seeing his other “small” performances. The camera pans over his feet with each step he takes on the high wire, making anyone viewing hold his breath. Serenity passes through the audience as “Für Elise” by Beethoven quietly plays in the background when Philippe Petit decides to lie down on the wire. In total, Philippe Petit performed on the wire for 45 minutes, making eight travels back and forth along the wire, in which he either walked, danced, lay down, or saluted watchers while kneeling on the wire.

Dedicated to the victims of the September 11 attacks that occurred in 2001, there is really no metaphor for you to grasp because of this film. It doesn’t need to overvalue itself or justify itself. This is a movie that can just be whatever it wants to be.

Rating: 7/10 – Vintage wardrobe, astounding acting, cinematically pleasing CGI, and unnecessary/fictional scenes that don’t coincide.