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Film / The Walk

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"This isn't a game, Philippe. One mistake out there and you're going to die."
US Customs Agent: [seeing his equipment] And what's all this for?
Philippe Petit: I'm going to hang a high wire between the World Trade Center Towers... And walk on it.
US Customs Agent: Right. Good luck. Next!

The Walk is a 2015 dramatic film directed by Robert Zemeckis and covering Philippe Petit's story of how he conceived of, planned for, and pulled off illegally walking between the two towers of the World Trade Center. Philippe is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Man on Wire (2008) is a documentary of the same story.

The Walk contains examples of:

  • Agony of the Feet: Petit gets a nail right through the foot. During his walk, blood begins to seep through the shoes, though it never affects his ability.
  • Alliterative Name: Philippe Petit and Anne Allix.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Petit completed his coup and got away with it. He's given a free pass to visit the top of the World Trade Center any time he wants, with the expiration date crossed out and "forever" written in. The movie ends with a shot of the towers, letting the audience absorb that "forever" only lasted 27 years.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cable went diagonally from building corner to building corner - not straight out one face as you see in the page image.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: Petit's team wore the uniforms of delivery crewmen in order to get past security.
  • Determinator: Philippe doesn't let his injured and bleeding foot stop him from wire-walking.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Anne returns to France, Philippe stays in New York.
  • Don't Look Down: Intentionally averted; Petit explicitly looks down when on the wire, since it's a once-in-a-lifetime view.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Several times Petit and co. risk being caught by the guards, but the guards tend to do a pretty bad job of surveillance.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: The team attempt to do this at an electronics store until the person waiting on them starts speaking French to tell them they're not the only people in New York who can speak French.
  • Karma Houdini: Semi-averted. After the walk Petit was arrested and charged with trespassing and disturbing the peace. However, the district attorney made a deal that all the charges against him would be dropped if he performed a free wire-walk show for kids in Central Park. Afterwards, Petit got a lifetime pass to the observation deck of the Twin Towers, letting him visit there whenever he wanted. However, the manager did playfully have one condition if Petit ever thought of repeating his high-wire stunt, "Don't do that again!"
  • Meet Cute: Philippe meeting Anne, and the battle of the mimes.
  • Not a Game: Papa Rudy tells Philippe this about the idea of his walk.
    Papa Rudy: This isn't a game, Philippe. One mistake out there, and you're going to die.
  • Obfuscating Disability: After accidentally injuring his foot, Petit realizes that a man in crutches doesn't arouse suspicion.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Steve Valentine as Barry Greenhouse fails to maintain a credible accent.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Petit's team.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Lying down on the cable and kneeling on it seem like unbelievable feats, especially under such extreme circumstances; Petit actually did these things during his real life walk.
  • Sarcastic Confession: When Petit arrives in New York prior to the coup, the customs agent asks him what all of his gear is for.
    Petit: I'm going to hang a wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and walk on it.
    Customs Agent: [Beat] Good luck.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The drugged up hippies, who served mostly as comic relief, bail in fear of being arrested.
  • The '70s: In all the decade's glory.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Quite a few people see Philippe as this due to his dream of walking between the World Trade Center towers on a wire and doing it without any safety gear, with some thinking he's crazy because, as Papa Rudy points out, if he makes one mistake on the wire, he would plummet to his death.
  • Tightrope Walking: The movie shows how Philippe discovered and started doing it, and culminates with his "coup".

"Well, these passes, they have a date on them, a date when they expire. But on my pass, Mr. Tozzoli, he crossed out the date, and he wrote on it, 'Forever'."