There's Barry Greenhouse, an American who sports a handlebar mustache, conducts himself like an impresario and was the "inside man." He first met Petit when he bumped into him in the World Trade Center's south tower's lobby -- Greenhouse worked on the 82nd floor -- but he had seen Petit juggling on a Parisian street a year earlier. Greenhouse provided the fake IDs for Petit and the accomplices to enter the building on the night of Aug. 6.
Also interviewed in the film are a few who dropped out because they didn't want to see their friend, Philippe, die. But as Annie Allix, his then-girlfriend points out, "He couldn't go on living if he didn't try to conquer those towers ... it was as if they had been built specifically for him."
Then And Now
It was August 1974: Richard Nixon would resign over Watergate a day after Petit's walk; New York was facing serious fiscal problems; and a motley crew of Frenchmen passed through Kennedy International Airport with ropes, knives, a bow and arrow (to get the wire from one tower to the other), and shackles.
And, of course, the Twin Towers were standing. There is no mention of their collapse in "Man on Wire." Acknowledging that the Sept. 11 attack "frames the story in a different way," Marsh said it would have been "wrong to inject it." It's the events of 34 years ago that are important to the story.
"I had dreamed, I had toiled, I was an impatient child finally getting what I wanted," recalled Petit of the day he stepped out onto the wire to cross the towers, to realize a dream he first had in 1968, at the age of 18, when he saw an architectural drawing of the proposed buildings in a newspaper. "I had these elaborate hopes and dreams and thoughts about illegally landing on top of this magnificent structure."
When they were attacked, he said, "I had shock and disbelief. Those towers that were alive in me were pulled out too."