The Walk (2015 film)

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The Walk
The Walk (2015 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onTo Reach the Clouds
by Philippe Petit
Starring
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Dariusz Wolski
Edited byJeremiah O'Driscoll
Production
company
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release date
Running time
123 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States
Language
  • English
  • French
Budget$35–45 million [2] [3]
Box office$61.2 million [2]

The Walk is a 2015 American 3D biographical drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Christopher Browne and Zemeckis. It is based on the story of 24-year-old French high-wire artist Philippe Petit's walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on August 7, 1974. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz and Steve Valentine.

A three-dimensional stereoscopic film is a motion picture that enhances the illusion of depth perception, hence adding a third dimension. The most common approach to the production of 3D films is derived from stereoscopic photography. In this approach, a regular motion picture camera system is used to record the images as seen from two perspectives, and special projection hardware or eyewear is used to limit the visibility of each image to the viewer's left or right eye only. 3D films are not limited to theatrical releases; television broadcasts and direct-to-video films have also incorporated similar methods, especially since the advent of 3D television and Blu-ray 3D.

Biographical film Film genre

A biographical film, or biopic, is a film that dramatizes the life of a non-fictional or historically-based person or people. Such films show the life of a historical person and the central character's real name is used. They differ from films "based on a true story" or "historical drama films" in that they attempt to comprehensively tell a single person's life story or at least the most historically important years of their lives.

Robert Zemeckis American film director, producer and screenwriter

Robert Lee Zemeckis is an American director, film producer and screenwriter frequently credited as an innovator in visual effects. He first came to public attention in the 1980s as the director of Romancing the Stone (1984) and the science-fiction comedy Back to the Future film trilogy, as well as the live-action/animated comedy Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). In the 1990s, he directed Death Becomes Her and then diversified into more dramatic fare, including 1994's Forrest Gump, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director; the film itself won Best Picture. The films he has directed have ranged across a wide variety of genres, for both adults and families.

Contents

The film was released by TriStar Pictures on September 30, 2015, in the United States in IMAX 3D, and on October 9 in regular 2D and 3D. It was dedicated to the victims of the September 11 attacks. The film received positive reviews but was a box office flop.

TriStar Pictures Film production/distribution studio owned by Sony

TriStar Pictures, Inc. is an American film studio that is a division of the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group and is a sister studio of the larger Sony studio Columbia Pictures and part of Sony Pictures, which is owned by Japanese multinational conglomerate Sony Corporation.

IMAX is a proprietary system of high-resolution cameras, film formats, film projectors, and theaters known for having very large screens with a tall aspect ratio and steep stadium seating.

September 11 attacks Attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001

The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. Additional people died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks.

Plot

In 1974, French street performer Philippe Petit is trying to make a living in Paris with juggling acts and wire walking, much to the chagrin of his father. During one performance, he eats a hard candy which was given to him by an audience member and injures his tooth. He visits the dentist and, while in the waiting room, sees a picture in a magazine of the Twin Towers in New York City. He analyzes the photo and decides to make it his mission to walk a tightrope between the two buildings. Meanwhile, he is evicted from his parents' house by his father, citing his lack of income and the fact that he is a street performer. Philippe returns to the circus that inspired him to wire walk as a child and practices in the big top after hours, but is caught by Papa Rudy, whom he impresses with his juggling skills. While performing one day, Philippe meets a woman and fellow street performer named Annie, and they begin a romantic relationship. He also explains that although he did not know it at the time, she was his first "accomplice." He tells Annie about his dream to walk between the towers of the World Trade Center and she supports him and gives him a perfect place to practice at her music school. Philippe meets a photographer named Jean-Louis and befriends him, who becomes Philippe's official photographer and second accomplice in his "coup."

Philippe Petit French high-wire artist

Philippe Petit is a French high-wire artist who gained fame for his high-wire walk between the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, 1971 as well as his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, on the morning of 7 August 1974. For his unauthorized feat 400 metres above the ground – which he referred to as "le coup" – he rigged a 200-kilogram (440-pound) cable and used a custom-made 8-metre (30-foot) long, 25-kilogram (55-pound) balancing pole. He performed for 45 minutes, making eight passes along the wire. The following week, he celebrated his 25th birthday. All charges were dismissed in exchange for him doing a performance in Central Park for children.

World Trade Center (1973–2001) Former skyscraper complex in Manhattan, New York

The original World Trade Center was a large complex of seven buildings in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. It opened on April 4, 1973, and was destroyed in 2001 during the September 11 attacks. At the time of their completion, the Twin Towers — the original 1 World Trade Center, at 1,368 feet (417 m); and 2 World Trade Center, at 1,362 feet (415.1 m)—were the tallest buildings in the world. Other buildings in the complex included the Marriott World Trade Center, 4 WTC, 5 WTC, 6 WTC, and 7 WTC. The complex was located in New York City's Financial District and contained 13,400,000 square feet (1,240,000 m2) of office space.

Philippe asks Papa Rudy for tips and advice on knot tying and rope rigging, which Papa Rudy agrees to for compensation. After failing his first real performance by falling into a lake, Philippe decides to attempt to walk on the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to redeem himself. He succeeds with the support of Jean-Louis but is arrested in the process. Jean-Louis introduces Jeff, another accomplice who has a fear of heights, to Philippe and Annie, while explaining his idea to use a bow and arrow tied to a fishing line to get the cable across the Towers. Philippe and Annie then travel to America, setting the date for the walk as August 6, 1974. Philippe dresses in disguises to spy on the construction crews and scout out the locations, impaling his foot on a nail in the process. At one point, he meets a man who reveals he is a fan of Philippe's and saw him at Notre Dame. He introduces himself as Barry Greenhouse, a life insurance salesman who works in the building, becoming another member of Philippe's team. They also meet French-speaking electronics salesman J.P., amateur photographer Albert, and stoner David. The gang goes over the plan several times, ending with the notion that Philippe must be on the wire before the construction crews arrive at 7:00 a.m.

Acrophobia An extreme or irrational fear of heights

Acrophobia is an extreme or irrational fear or phobia of heights, especially when one is not particularly high up. It belongs to a category of specific phobias, called space and motion discomfort, that share both similar causes and options for treatment.

On the eve of the event, the gang encounters several challenges, such as being three hours behind schedule, guards on the premises and nearly dropping the heavy cable off the roof. However, they successfully string up the ropes and set the cables. Philippe begins his walk, explaining that everything around him faded once he started, except the wire and himself, and that for the first time in his life he felt truly thankful and at peace. He successfully crosses the gap between the towers while crowds below cheer him on. Once he reaches he has an urge to return, so he walks back again across the void. At one point he kneels to his audience and even lies down. The police arrive, and threaten to remove him by helicopter if he does not get off, but Philippe relentlessly continues to walk back and forth until he achieves the feat a total of six times in his 45-minute performance and felt confident enough to showboat on occasion before being ordered down by the local police. He is arrested on site, with the police and construction workers commending him on his bravery. Philippe and his accomplices are eventually released and he decides to remain in New York, but Annie chooses to follow her dream, and return to Paris. The building manager gives Philippe a free pass to the observation decks of both towers, and Philippe gives a final look to the camera, with the Twin Towers in the background, as he says the expiration date on the pass was crossed out and changed to "forever."

Cast

Joseph Gordon-Levitt American actor

Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt is an American actor, filmmaker, singer, and entrepreneur. As a child, Gordon-Levitt appeared in the films A River Runs Through It, Angels in the Outfield, Holy Matrimony and 10 Things I Hate About You, and as Tommy Solomon in the TV series 3rd Rock from the Sun. He took a break from acting to study at Columbia University, but dropped out in 2004 to pursue acting again. He has since starred in (500) Days of Summer, Inception, Hesher, 50/50, Premium Rush, Miracle at St. Anna, The Brothers Bloom,The Dark Knight Rises, Brick, Looper, The Lookout, Manic, Lincoln, Mysterious Skin, and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. He portrayed Philippe Petit in the Robert Zemeckis-directed film The Walk (2015), and whistleblower Edward Snowden in the Oliver Stone film Snowden (2016). For his leading performances in (500) Days of Summer and 50/50, he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

Charlotte Le Bon Canadian actress, model and television presenter

Charlotte Le Bon is a Canadian actress and artist, formerly a model and television presenter. She is known for her work in the Canal+ talk show Le Grand Journal, and the films Yves Saint Laurent, The Hundred-Foot Journey, and The Walk.

Ben Kingsley British actor

Sir Ben Kingsley is an English actor with a career spanning over 50 years. He has won an Oscar, a Grammy, a BAFTA, two Golden Globes, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Production

On January 23, 2014, it was announced that Robert Zemeckis would direct a film based on the story of Philippe Petit's walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. It was also confirmed that Zemeckis wanted Joseph Gordon-Levitt to star in the film as Petit. [4] Zemeckis first came across the story of Petit from the children's book The Man Who Walked Between the Towers . [5] At first, Zemeckis questioned whether or not the story was true as he did not recall the event, saying he "somehow missed it." [5] Zemeckis immediately recognized the potential for a movie, telling Deadline : "To me, it had everything that you want in a movie. It had an interesting character who’s driven, and obsessed, and passionate. It had all this caper stuff. He was an outlaw. There was suspense. And then he did this death-defying thing." [5] By February 2014, Gordon-Levitt was confirmed to star in the film. [6] In April 2014, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kingsley and James Badge Dale joined the cast of the film. [7] On May 6, 2014, it was announced that the film would be released on October 2, 2015. [8] In May 2014, Steve Valentine and Ben Schwartz joined the cast of the film. [9] [10] Principal photography began on May 26, 2014, in Montreal, and ended on August 6, 2014. [11] [12]

<i>The Man Who Walked Between the Towers</i> book by Mordicai Gerstein

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers is a children's picture book written and illustrated by American Mordicai Gerstein. Published in 2003, the book recounts the heart-stopping achievement of Philippe Petit, a French man who, on an August morning in 1974, walked, lay, knelt and danced on a tightrope wire between the roofs of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, a quarter mile above the ground. Gerstein won the 2004 Caldecott Medal for his illustrations. The book has been adapted to film and ballet.

<i>Deadline Hollywood</i> Online entertainment news magazine

Deadline Hollywood, also known as Deadline.com and previously known as the news blog Deadline Hollywood Daily, is an online magazine founded by Nikki Finke in 2006. Owned by Jay Penske since 2009, it is a brand of the Penske Media Corporation. The site is updated several times a day, with entertainment industry news as its focus.

James Badge Dale American actor

James Badgett Dale, known professionally as James Badge Dale, is an American actor. He is known for playing Chase Edmunds in 24, State Trooper Barrigan in Martin Scorsese's The Departed, and Eric Savin in Iron Man 3.

Philippe Petit personally trained Gordon-Levitt how to walk on wire. He optimistically predicted that the actor would be able to walk on the wire alone after an elaborate workshop of eight days, which the actor did. PhilippePetitAAFeb09.jpg
Philippe Petit personally trained Gordon-Levitt how to walk on wire. He optimistically predicted that the actor would be able to walk on the wire alone after an elaborate workshop of eight days, which the actor did.

Gordon-Levitt, who had no formal high-wire experience, trained directly with Petit. By the end of the eighth day, he was able to walk on the wire by himself, and continued to practice while shooting. [13] Along with a stunt double, the actor shot the climactic wire-walking scenes on a soundstage; it had reconstructions of the top two stories of the tower and a wire approximately twelve feet off the ground, which was connected out across a green abyss and was anchored on a pole. [13] To learn more about what it was like, Gordon-Levitt also walked the distance between the World Trade Center memorial's two pools, which are located where the Twin Towers stood before the September 11 attacks. He visited the original observatory once before, in 2001, during his first summer in New York City. "It was touristy but I wanted to go do it. I remember it distinctly. It felt more like being in the sky than being on a tall building." [13] Aside from wire-walking, Gordon-Levitt also learned to speak French fluently, perfecting a Parisian accent aided by Le Bon and other French actors on set. [13]

Release

The film premiered at the New York Film Festival on September 26, 2015. [14] It had an early release in IMAX on September 30, 2015, before a wide theatrical release on October 9, 2015. [15]

Reception

Box office

The Walk grossed $10.1 million in North America and $51 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $61.2 million, against a budget of $35 million. [2]

The film was released into IMAX theaters on Wednesday, September 30, 2015. In the opening weekend of its limited release, the film grossed $1.6 million, finishing 11th at the box office. During the first weekend of its wide release a week later, the film grossed $3.7 million, coming in seventh. [16]

Critical response

The Walk received positive reviews from critics, with praise for Gordon-Levitt's performance, Zemeckis' direction and the visual effects, particularly during the wire walk scene. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a rating of 84%, based on 226 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Walk attempts a tricky balancing act between thrilling visuals and fact-based drama – and like its wire-walking protagonist, pulls it off with impressive élan." [17] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 70 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [18] On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale. [16]

John Lasser of IGN gave the film an 8.6 out of 10 'great' score, saying,

The Walk is an amazing film, and is so on multiple levels. Joseph Gordon-Levitt puts forth such an easy charm crossed with a fierce determination that it is impossible not to fall in love with Philippe Petit as he attempts what sounds utterly suicidal. The planning and set up of the caper are as fun as any heist movie. And, even though everyone watching knows exactly what the film is building towards, the climactic sequence delivers everything you want and more. [19]

Peter Debruge of Variety gave the film a positive review, saying "A filmmaker with a gift for overcoming the seemingly impossible puts audiences in the place of the man who walked between the Twin Towers in this gripping human-interest story." [20] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, saying "The film's payoff more than compensates for a lumbering setup, laden with cloying voiceover narration and strained whimsy." [21] Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The film gets better as it goes, and the last half-hour (especially in 3-D on an Imax screen) is nearly everything it should be: scary, visually momentous, meticulously realized." [22] Lou Lumenick of the New York Post gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Zemeckis finally delivers the goods in abundance in the section that really counts: A vertigo-inducing digital re-creation of Petit's famous walk back and forth between the towers." [23]

Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The Walk satisfies as an absorbing yarn of authority-flouting adventure and as an example of stomach-flipping you-are-there-ness. The journey it offers viewers doesn't just span 140 feet, but also an ethereal, now-vanished, world." [24] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Expect the worst from the first half- that's before Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) strings up a wire between the World Trade Center towers. But then, oh, baby, does this movie fly." [25] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four stars, saying "The last 30 minutes or so are all about the walk. Dariusz Wolski's cinematography is beautiful... and Gordon-Levitt does some of his best acting when he's out on the wire and mostly silent, his face glowing from the sheer crazy joy he's feeling." [26] James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three out of four stars, saying "It's two-thirds of a great film but the slow start and unremarkable first hour hold it back. Still, for those who buy into the precept that good things are worth waiting for, The Walk unquestionably delivers." [27] Brian Truitt of USA Today gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "For those who want to feel like they're 110 stories up and living in the clouds, Hollywood does its job conjuring movie magic with a breathtaking Walk to remember." [28]

Awards

AwardCategoryRecipientResult
Critic's Choice Awards [29] Best Visual EffectsNominated
Florida Film Critics Circle [30] Best Visual EffectsNominated
San Diego Film Critics Society [31] Best Visual EffectsWon
Satellite Awards [32] Best Visual Effects Kevin Baillie, Jim Gibbs, Viktor Muller and Sébastien MoreauWon
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association [33] Best Visual EffectsNominated
Visual Effects Society [34] Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal FeatureKevin Baillie, Camille Cellucci, Viktor Muller, Sebastien MoreauNominated
Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal FeatureJim Gibbs, Brian Flora, Laurent Tallefer, Pavel KolarNominated
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal ProjectShawn Hull, Suzanne Cipolletti, Laurent Taillefer, Dariusz Wolski Nominated

See also

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