Thoughts on the movie “The Wire” and 9/11

There is a movie coming out soon that is getting a lot of attention and it is not because of drama, its budget, or its actors escapades on and off set. The special effects, however, are getting a lot of attention, but that is not what is rubbing people the wrong way.

“The Walk” is a movie is about a daredevil high-wire-artist who accomplished one of the most daring feats in his line of work. No one paid him to do it, there was no multimillion dollar contract with a TV network. In fact, what he did was highly illegal and was done without the permission of New York Port Authority.  It’s also about a group of people working together to do something many said could not be done and that is helping one man walk a wire which stretched between the North and South towers of the World Trade Center.

Yes, the same ones which were attacked and fell on September 11th, 2001 and it seems that is what is rubbing some people the wrong way.

They are upset about the buildings being used and shown in the film. That somehow in some warped way by recreating this epic moment in time in 1974 that it is somehow sullying the tragic events of 9/11/2001.  But you literally cannot make this film without them. It’s not a film about highwire walking between any old building. The towers themselves are nearly the antagonist of the movie. This film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and tells the tale of the feat achieved by Phillip Petit in August 1974. In the film, Levitt plays Petit and co-stars the always epic Ben Kingsley. The movie feels like a daredevils version of Oceans 11 and looks just as intense and well planned out. Interesting tidbit I learned while researching this article is that Levitt actually trained with Petit to prepare for the film. I’m not surprised considering how committed he is to his roles.

the walk
Shot from The Walk (Courtesy of Sony and Tristar Films)

It’s ironic because when I first saw the trailer for this the other day, my first thought was, “Wow that’s going to piss some people off,” and my second thought was, “Damn those special effects look amazing.” Apparently, I was right on both counts. Across the internet and especially Facebook and Twitter (of course) there has been no shortage of people sounding off negatively about this film. Some comments I read called the movie, “Disgusting” while others said, “Shameful,” and “Un-American.”

I do not understand these people and here is why. I sat in front of my TV and watched the planes hit both towers, the fires, the people jumping; the buildings fall and the hero’s trying to save lives right along with most of America and the world. It was one of the most, if not the most frantic, surreal and heart-wrenching events of my life. I am not one these kids born just before or after 9/11 who try to diminish the events of that day when they have no memory of it happening or much of the world after. I was 21 years old at the time and I know all too well, what the events of that day did to our country and how they changed it…but we need to move on.

I am not saying forget about it, I am not saying ignore it. What this film can do though that some are not realizing is give people the ability to look at the World Trade Center towers in a different way and light than what we all have been. For 14 years, the towers and that day have been a horrible black eye on the United States and have given us nothing but sadness and anger. The words “World Trade Center” are often still spoken in hushed voices with a certain amount reverence.

the walk 3
Shot from The Walk (Courtesy of Sony and Tristar Films)

The movie I think can help people see those towers for what they were for all those years before 9/11 and that is a monument to human technological achievement and a pair of true modern marvels. During the time, this event actually occurred the buildings and the surrounding complex were still under construction. Seeing the towers in a state of building and birth in the film rather than collapse and destruction was interesting and nice. People tend to forget that for decades these were the two tallest buildings in the world, they remember the end of them but not years before they fell save for the people of New York City who lived with them every day.  Yes, some of the shots in the film of the CG recreated towers are gut-wrenchingly close and ultra realistic. For years though these two buildings were an obstacle to overcome, to be in awe of and not be sad about and that is something worth remembering. This film is about human empowerment and not being a victim.

According to PBS Petit once said about the event, “They called me, I didn’t choose them,” and “…. it was a calling of the romantic type.”

phillip petite
Actual photo from the 1974 event


Through Levitt’s portrayal as Phillip Petit, we can see someone master that marvel and do the impossible. In addition, through his portrayal we can see a person’s bravery and perseverance overcome two buildings that took so many and that is something worth thinking about I think before rushing to judgement and calling the film “shameful.”

Here is the Trailer for the film:



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