Here is why:
It’s a true story, and there are things about Philippe Petit’s accomplishment that anyone else could do, if they set their mind to it. Other things about the scenario are so unique and outside the realm of predictable possibilities that his art becomes more of a miracle, and less of a display of talent. It makes me grateful that somebody had the sense to document the occasion, because without any tangible evidence to prove that it really happened, no one would believe it.
We all have our opinions about what makes great art. No matter what someone’s individual preferences are, most people will agree that great art usually includes a combination of some, but not necessarily all of these qualities:
- Courage. Truth. Expression of something pure. A feeling, a desire, a dream. Something magical and special. Otherwise it’s an ordinary communication of some sort, and it isn’t really art.
- Beauty. Beauty that must be perceptible with the ordinary 5 senses. It can be a sound or a smell or a flavor, but somebody needs to observe it and appreciate it.
- Mastery. Skill. Balance. Philippe Petit demonstrates mastery of his mind and his body. He must be focused and fearless to successfully balance his body and move it across the wire. Not to mention, he’s got to know a little bit about science and engineering in order to set up a wire that is capable of supporting the weight of his body.
- Patience. Dedication. Commitment. Practice. Philippe Petit knows he wasn’t born with any special talent or gift for wirewalking, and he doesn’t care. He just knows what he wants to do, and he knows he has the power to make it happen. So he chooses to spend the majority of his time in pursuit of that dream. Or, as we say in Corporate America, his “goal” or his “target.”
- Impermanence. That undefinable timespan when an artist is “in the zone” making his art. It’s transient. It doesn’t last forever. He must come back to the real world at some point, but he leaves evidence of his journey to that magic level of consciousness from which art is generated. Not only that, but the audience’s appreciation for art is equally as transient and impermanent. No piece of art is going to hold an audience’s undivided attention forever and ever. Unfortunately, the towers that hold Phillipe’s wire, and all of their architectural details, prove to be impermanent as well.
Today’s visual aid shows the print that I got to keep after the movie. There was a stack of them sitting by the door when we walked out of the theater, which was a nice bonus.
Go see the movie! If not, Netflix has an Oscar winning documentary based on the same story, it’s called Man on Wire.