beside a living legend – Philippe Petit

Images borrowed from The British Documentary Website.

On the spur of the moment I called up for a ticket to the premier of Man On Wire at the Clapham Picturehouse – and nabbed the last one, in the front row.

The film is a documentary about Philippe Petit’s astounding journey leading toward him walking (or rather dancing as witnesses described it) on a tightrope illegally strung between the World Trade Centre’s twin towers in New York in 1974.

In itself the film was fascinating, captured the stunning audacity of the plan, the extraordinary personalities of Philippe and the others involved.

But it was afterwards when Philippe joined director James Marsh for an audience Q&A that I was truly stunned. People started to rise in ovation and I was compelled to join them. For we were in the presence of a true living legend. A man who stuck by his convictions to bring to reality his mad, wild, senseless passion. And in doing so brought a sense of wonder, joy and hope to thousands of people – including me. Standing there only 2 metres away, one person gave me a sense that the world is really so close, possibilities truly endless, but more importantly available to each and every one of us. As Philippe said to me, although at the time he said there wasn’t, there was a reason for doing it – he was there and there was no going back. And sometimes that’s all it takes to change things forever.


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