How 'The Walk' Recreated The Twin Towers

by Dino-Ray Ramos

Being a person who is terrified of extreme heights, to me, The Walk looks insane — and I'm saying that in the best way possible. Based on a true story, The Walk is directed by Robert Zemeckis and is about French aerialist Philipe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) walking across a tightrope held between the towers of the World Trade Center. Yet it's also a love letter to New York City. The film managed to recreate the World Trade Center's Twin Towers perfectly, and the similarities between new fiction and past reality are eerie to see. The Twin Towers in The Walk look so real that they feel surreal, and like nothing ever done in movies before. How did the film make that happen?

It can be summed up in one word: technology. The movie claims that it's a 3D and IMAX visual experience unlike anything seen before, and while that may be promising a lot, it delivers the goods — and then some. The film employed an awesome visual effects team who helped make Gordon-Levitt's sky-high walk incredible to watch. It also had access to many resources that helped ensure that one of America's most beloved landmarks was properly honored on-screen.

Just as Petit was when he did his walk, director Zemeckis became obsessed with the details of the towers. Along with production designer Naomi Shohan and visual effects supervisor Kevin Baillie, the director worked tirelessly to make the movie's depiction of the Twin Towers as accurate as possible.

According to Pop Inquirer, Shohan and Baillie created the centerpiece of the film by deciding what they could build practically and what could be created digitally. They had access to the original blueprints from the World Trade Center and they designed and built a 40 foot by 60 foot corner of the South Tower — where most of the movie's action takes place. To recreate the North Tower, they took down the stage dressing of the recently-built roof and redressed it to make it look like the mirror image of the South Tower, which is what the North Tower essentially was. Shohan and her team ultimately created one quarter of the 200 x 200 roof of the World Trade Center and with creative shots and visual effects, they were able to build the rest of the roof.

The original blueprints helped Baillie when it came to recreating every floor of the World Trade Center. Along with that, the filmmakers had reference photos to digitally create the details of the floors right down to the desks and tables inside. They also had to recreate the view from roof from 1400 feet in the air, but instead of a view of New York City in 2015, they digitally recreated the view as it was in 1974.

With a construction team of 15 people, it took the filmmakers three months to build the structures. Then it took 100 artists five months to create the digital effects. The final process of the towers took almost three months to complete — but in the end, it was very well worth it to see the Twin Towers so incredibly depicted on-screen.

Images: Sony Pictures Entertainment (2)