How Long Did Phillipe Petit's Walk Take? The Length Of The Stunt Wasn't Even The Craziest Part
In The Walk, the new film from Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrays French high-wire artist Philippe Petit, who famously (and illegally) walked a tight rope across the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the summer of 1974. The movie is an impressive spectacle and one of the most-effective uses of 3D technology ever used in a film, as it depicts Petit's daring stunt in visually stunning action. But one thing the film isn't entirely clear on is just how much time Petit spends up on the wire — how long did Philippe Petit's walk take? It certainly keeps viewers on the edge of their seats for nearly a third of the film.
Believe it or not, Petit spent a whole 45 minutes walking between the towers. That's three-quarters of an hour on a thin wire, 1,350 feet above New York City, with no net or safety harness for protection. One could argue that a single pass between the towers under those circumstances would be enough to impress anybody, but Petit was an entertainer. He wanted to do more than just the bare minimum; he wanted to put on a show! And that's exactly what he did. So, what kinds of entertaining things did he do while he was up there, you ask? Well, read on and I'll tell you.
He Made Eight Passes
Like I said, just walking across the wire once would have been impressive, but Petit walked between the towers a total of eight times; each one different than the last.
Once he became confident in what he was doing, Petit ditched straight-up walking for more difficult dancing. According to the police officer dispatched to the roof during Petit's act, Sgt. Charles Daniels, the daredevil's feet fully left the wire as he danced across.
He Got On His Knees
But not to pray. Petit's balance was so good he was able to kneel on the wire without falling off, and then get back up. I can barely do that on solid ground.
He Laid Down
Maybe he was tired? Taking the kneeling to the next level, Petit lay completely flat on the wire for a time before getting up and continuing the walk.
While he held a pole for balance, the showman wasn't above letting go to wave and salute the thousands of stunned admirers cheering him on.
He Was Arrested
Police had no choice but to wait until Petit finished his act before intervening, and when he finally got off the wire he was promptly arrested. But due to the popularity of his stunt, all charges were dropped and he was "sentenced" to perform a free high-wire act for children in Central Park. He also received a lifetime pass to the World Trade Center's observation deck, which he used frequently in the ensuing years.
Obviously, Philippe Petit knew what he was doing atop that wire because the guy put on one hell of a show. It's an event that no one who witnessed it will ever forget, and now it's finally getting the dramatic depiction it deserves in The Walk.
Images: Tri-Star Pictures; Giphy (6)