It took every visual effects trick that director Robert Zemeckis learnt in his career to cinematically recreate Philippe Petit’s unauthorised high wire walk between the World Trade Towers of New York in the 1974.
“The Walk”, starring Joseph Gordon Levitt as the French high-wire artist, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale, takes the viewers back in the history when Petit walked between the Twin Towers.
“As I was making this film… many times I talked to my colleagues and I said, ‘You know, I think this is the culmination of all the visual effects movies I’ve done. I’ve everything that I’ve learnt in doing all these films is being put into use in some way, in the making of this film’,” the director said at the recent Summer of Sony event in Cancun, Mexico.
Known for his movies like “Back to the Future”, “Forrest Gump”, “Cast Away”, “What Lies Beneath” and “Death Becomes Here”, Zemeckis thought Petit’s story would lend itself beautifully to the cinematic experience.
“…It’s not just a caper story. It may have been, but it is a magnificent caper story,” says the director.
The biggest challenge for Zemeckis was to recreate Twin Towers, which were destroyed in 9/11 terror attacks, as they were in the 1974 and the research involved seeing “every photo that was ever taken of the towers in the 1970s.”
The French high-wire artist was just 24 when he pulled off the stunt by shooting a wire between the two towers secretly before walking on them with a pole.
Petit was up on the wires for “45 minutes” and Zemeckis, who has been trying to make the movie since 2006, thought the audience should be able to experience the moment as if they were with the artist up in the sky walking on that wire.
“… not a single image, moving image of him on the wire was able to be recorded. No one in 1974 could scramble a motion picture camera fast enough to record his walk. So that allowed us to put this in sort of a fable state.”
Petit closely worked with the filmmaker on the movie, which comes after an award-winning documentary on the artist.
Also starring Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale, the movie is based on Petit’s book “To Reach the Clouds”. Sony Pictures will release the movie in India on October 2.