There is just one word that comes to mind when we think of this biopic by Robert Zemeckis and that is – Breathtaking ! Zemeckis has this knack of using mesmerising visuals integrated seemlessly within an absorbing narration that makes you gasp with wonder. With an almost legendary list of works under his mantle like – Forrest Gump, Castaway, Back to the Future 2 & 3, it was interesting to watch him work the same magic on a character who had a true life-story to share. And the result is a biographical drama unlike any other we had ever experienced.
The Walk is the culmination of the dream of a French high-wire artist by the name Phillipe Petit, played by Joseph-gordon Levitt. Ever since he was a child, Petit found freedom only when his feet were dancing atop a tight-rope tied between two poles, high above the heads of ordinary mortals grounded hopelessly to their lives. And like any other artist, reminiscent of Houdini, he loved to make his acts not just mere physical feats but a spectacle that his audience would remember till the end of their days. In this very pursuit of creating better and more spectacular feats, he endlessly strives to design his own contraptions, choosing iconic places of interest within his town as a Spanish conquistador exploring lands uncharted by any human being before. Meanwhile, at a local circus, he is baffled by the skill of a tight-rope walker who walks on a rope so high that he seemed to be walking on thin air! As he is consumed by his aspiration to walk on a high-rope, he meets Papa Ruddy, played by Ben Kingsley who is the proprietor of the circus and a talented tight-rope veteran himself. As Papa comes to learn of Petit’s amazing skill on the rope and his desire to become the best in the world, he takes him under his tutelage and teaches him the nuances of the art like a father to his own son.
With time, he conducts spectacular feats like walking between the spires of Notre de Dame de Paris. He soon becomes a popular artist in France but it seemed he was just working up his appetit (sounds a lot like his last name, interestingly). One day when he was at the dentist’s, he notices the front page of the local paper which has a picture of the twin towers of World Trade Centre which are under-construction. As he marvels at that massive engineering feat, a thought suddenly strikes him and he knows why he was born. The child-like passion of a man driven by a singular purpose is accurately portrayed by Levitt. He soon gathers a team of friends who would help him execute this historical, nonetheless illegal, feat of walking a tight-rope between the sky-touching towers.
It would be grossly blasphemous of me to tell you the grit and determination it took for the team to go through with the impossible task until you see it for yourself but that moment when Petit put his first foot forward on that line hanging in the middle of clouds, was the most nerve-wracking moment of our lives. The audience gasped and sighed with every single step, time stopped for a moment as we tightly gripped our seats taking in the enormous courage a human being could possibly gather. Suddenly, walking on the moon became a lesser feat as we saw that man gracefully dancing on that line without any harness or protection but a long-pole just to help him balance. We kept saying – “This man has balls of steel !” but even that didn’t seem to do justice to what it really took to even attempt anything like this.
The Walk is a symbol of the undaunting spirit of mankind and the ability to dream the impossible. Zemeckis has yet again, captured our imagination with a visually astounding masterpiece. When Petit stood in the middle of the towers hanging his legs without the least care in the world, we were almost convinced that we could grow wings and actually fly only if we tried a little hard. That haunting scene, made us realise that we were much, much more than what we thought we were.
Possible Oscar mentions:
Best Visual Effects: The Walk is definitely the front-runner for this category. With astounding visuals, beautifully embedded through the narration, it brought back the twin towers to life which once stood as the symbol of the economic might of America and the soul of the New York City skyline. The scene where Petit walks onto the rope on a foggy morning felt so real and inclusive on IMAX 3D that it can literally be used in Amusements Park rides. As the camera switched to Petit’s view of the Walk, we could see the enormity of the feat as we looked down at his tiny feet cautiously treading and balancing on the wire, quivering just for a bit as the wind howled under his legs. Goosebumps right now !
gobblepoint: The Walk is an experience of a lifetime. If you are someone who loves adventure and heart-stopping spectacles, this one is for you.
Disclaimer: The photograph used in this blog is the sole property of the makers of this film and is not owned by us in any form whatsoever.