That is the question people ask me most.
Why? For what?
Why do you walk on the wire?
Why do you tempt fate?
Why do you risk death?
I don't think of it this way. I never even say this word.
Yes, okay, I said it once or, or, maybe three times just now.
But watch, I will not say it again.
Instead, I use the opposite word.
For me, to walk on the wire, this is life.
So, picture with me, it's 1974, New York City, and I am in love with two buildings, two towers.
Or as everyone in the world calls them, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
They call to me, these towers, they stir something inside of me, and they inspire in me, a dream.
My dream is to hang a high wire between those Twin Towers, and walk on it.
Of course, this is impossible, not to mention illegal.
So, why attempt the impossible?
Why follow your dream?
But I cannot answer this question, "Why?" Not with words.
But I can show you how it happened.
And so, we must go back in time and across the ocean, because my love affair with these beautiful towers did not begin in New York.
In case you couldn't tell, I'm not from here.
No. My story begins in another one of the world's most beautiful cities.
So, now, picture Paris Here I am, a self-proclaimed wire walker that nobody on earth cares about, surviving as a troubadour performing in the streets I've created a character: I have a top hat.
I wear only black. I teach myself to draw a perfect circle on the ground, and within this circle, I never speak, not one word.
The circle is my domain, and I don't allow even half of a toe inside of it.
And if the spectators continue to violate my sacred space, well, I must employ more drastic measures.
I perform for anyone who will watch me, and people love it.
Man, woman, young, old, everyone.
Except, of course, the police.
I don't believe in getting a permit.
But no matter where I was going or what I was doing, I was always searching, looking for the perfect place to hang my wire.
I have a horrible toothache. I need to see a dentist right away!
Did you call for an appointment?
I don't have a telephone.
You'll have to wait.
But madame... please?
It shouldn't be more than two hours.
You expect me to suffer like this for hours?
I hope I don't collapse from the pain.
Suddenly, I freeze.
The pain in my tooth is gone.
In the magazine, there's an article with an illustration about the towers.
They're not even finished yet, but the magazine says that once they are, they will be the tallest in the world.
And with this tiny pencil stroke, my fate was sealed.
This was the beginning of my dream.
The first time I ever saw a wire walker I was eight years old
The circus had come to my town, and it featured The Omankowsky Family Troupe, one of the greatest wire-walking troupes in the world.
The White Devils.
My son, the circus clown.
And I teach myself to walk on that rope.
And it turns out, I have some talent for climbing and balancing, even juggling.
But I want to know more.
Get down from there!
So this is how I meet Rudy Omankowsky Sn, the patriarch of The White Devils wire-walking family who everybody calls "Papa Rudy."
He would never say exactly where he was from.
He was certainly not French.
Papa Rudy was a supreme wire walker acrobat and juggler
And in that moment, I suppose he saw something in me.
I don't speak Czech.
-I speak English. -Okay.
Today, you're going to learn how to make entrance.
You need to learn how to compliment.
A compliment is a silent message, an order to the audience to pay attention.
And after the performance, a compliment is also an offering of gratitude.
Okay, okay, okay, okay.
No, Philippe. That was terrible.
You're doing too much.
Do nothing. Now, try again.
No! I said, "Do nothing!"
You're still doing too much! You look like a coward.
The audience must always feel you are in control.
Stop trying so hard!
Do nothing. Do it again.
Where's your respect? You didn't do anything.
But you said to do nothing!
Do nothing on the outside.
On the inside, in your heart, you must salute.
"In my heart?"
What the hell are you talking about?
But the performer must have an honest respect and gratitude for the audience.
But why should I respect the audience? It is me on the wire.
You will salute the audience and pay respect!
There is no show without an audience!
Unless you understand that, you will never perform in circus.
Good, okay, me, I don't want to perform in the circus.
I am not some ridiculous circus clown.
I am an artist!
So, just like that, Papa Rudy threw my artistic little ass out into the street.
And, a short time later.
You waste your life with your stupid circus tricks!
Wire-walking won't put bread on your table!
Could we give him one last chance?
No. The carrots are cooked.
That's right! The carrots are cooked!
The carrots were cooked. There was nothing left to do.
So, I set off on my way.
I didn't even know what I was looking for, but I figured I might find it in Paris.
I had a great thing going, until you showed up.
Can you hear me now?
A mime who speaks?
I'm not a mime. I don't hide behind imaginary walls.
Please don't insult my circle.
It's my sacred space.
I'd be much obliged if y'all could just mosey along.
This here is a private conversation.
Well, shut my mouth.
-We thought you were putting on a show. -No, it ain't.
This here's for y'all.
Well, thank you kindly.
Wow, I love your English. It sounds so American.
I think I like better the English.
Who do you think you are? Bastard.
Yes, I certainly prefer the English.
Then listen, juggler. You stole my best audience in weeks.
And for what? Some cheap stunt?
Well, I'm sorry, but people love my high wire.
You call that a high wire?
That was the lowest high wire I've ever seen.
You're right, mademoiselle But that is because the two tallest trees in this square were in your performance space.
And me, I would never invade the space of another artist.
It's going to rain.
Angry street musician.
I would like to make you an arrangement.
I will only play in that square when you are not playing.
That's every weekend and every second Tuesday.
My name is Philippe.
-Annie. -Annie, it's a nice name.
Why all the English?
Because I must practice. I'm going to New York.
New York. That's very exciting.
-Yes? Maybe you'll come with me. -Yeah, maybe.
I like the way you sing. It's very good.
You were not listening to me sing.
You were playing with fire on a rope.
No, before that, I was here earlier.
Maybe you did not see me, but I saw you, and I heard you sing.
It was beautiful.
Well, thank you.
Annie, may I buy you a glass of wine?
No, I don't think that's a good idea.
Yes, then I will make you an arrangement.
If you let me buy you a glass of wine, I will never hang my rope anywhere in the Latin Quarter ever again.
You don't give up. Do you?
No. No, I'm very persistent.
-And this is you. -Yes.
It will be the most glorious high wire walk in history.
And how high must this wire be to make so much glory?
Over 100 stories high.
Where do trees like this grow?
These are not trees.
Two magnificent towers.
One hundred meters taller than the Eiffel Tower itself.
What do you think?
I don't know. It looks so...
And completely insane. And you're a mad man.
Yes, I am mad, but this...
This is my dream.
Then, if it's your dream, you must do it.
But even if everybody tells me I'm mad?
Well, you shouldn't care about what other people think.
Okay, but I care what you think.
I love your dream, Philippe.
Do you want to know what I think about you?
-Not even a little bit? -No, no.
Okay, but I'm going to tell you any way You can tell me, but I won't care.
I know a place where there are two beautiful trees.
I didn't realize it at the time but Annie had become my first accomplice.
I was thinking you should come up here with me.
No, I don't think so.
Yes. It will be your baptism of the wire.
Come on, Annie. You must trust me.
And breathe and step.
Indeed, there were two beautiful trees growing in the park of Annie's art school.
So, she arranged for me to be able to hang my wire there.
It was perfect, 'cause I could practice every day and I could see Annie as well.
Then, one day while I was on my wire I was approached by a very serious-looking young man.
Do you mind if I take your photo?
I am Philippe.
Jean-Louis, do you speak English, Jean-Louis?
Because I must practice. I'm going to America.
But my performance will not just be a show.
It will be a coup.
I intend to rig my wire in secret on the most spectacular stage in the world.
And then, without warning, I will appear.
And I will perform a surprise and illegal wire walk.
If it works, it will be the artistic coup of the century.
Well, you, my friend, can see my photographs any time.
They're very rebellious.
So, you are not just a photographer, you are an anarchist as well?
All artists are anarchists to some degree.
-Don't you agree? -Yes.
And you, my artist, anarchist friend, can be my official photographer.
And so this is how I make friends with Jean-Louis, my second accomplice.
If that were to happen during your coup, it would be the artistic disaster of the century.
I need to know more.
Don't you know how to knock on a door?
I need you to teach me how to rig a high wire.
High wire for what? You're a street juggler But I need to know how to tie the correct knots.
I need to know what kind of cable to use, the weight, the thickness, the load strength.
So, you want me to just give you my secrets.
Secrets I've spent a lifetime learning.
Secrets I've only given to my sons.
You want me to just hand them over to you.
I can pay you. I have money.
I don't care what it costs.
Meet me at le cirque at sunrise.
Bring your juggling money.
Place wood blocks between the cable and mast.
The wood blocks act as buffer, so when masts flex, the wire won't snap.
And always, always check the rigging yourself.
Never step on a wire if you've not checked all of the rigging yourself.
There was this great Polish guy, wire walker, Roman.
He said he could tell when cable was at correct tension through his ass and through his ear.
Underneath, through the ring, lock it off.
Philippe, you give me broken money.
-No, it works. -it's broke.
So, Papa Rudy let me travel with his troupe.
Of course, I never did any performance.
But any time the big top was empty I would practice on the wire.
Most wire walkers, they die when they arrive.
They think they have arrived, but they're still on the wire.
If you have three steps to do, and you take those steps arrogantly, if you think you are invincible, you're going to die.
This one, I give to you for free.
A few weeks later, I did my first official public walk in this tiny little village.
It's so small, it's not even on a map.
But the mayor of this village, every spring he puts on a festival.
And Papa Rudy convinced him to hire me to do a walk over this little lake, which was more like a swamp.
Is it okay?
No. Through your ass and your feet, you tell me.
Annie came, she set up a turntable for music.
And Jean-Louis came to take pictures.
So, I begin my performance, and everything's going very well.
But then I start to hear this murmur of some laughing and giggling, and it turns out, there is also a fishing contest that afternoon on this lake, more like a swamp.
And the fishermen, they're drinking wine.
They're yelling insults at me.
They're laughing at me while I'm trying to work.
Now, walking on the wire is as much mental as it is physical.
If you lose your concentration, you lose your balance.
So here I am, in the mud to my knees doing the Papa Rudy compliment.
This was my first performance.
And after this, I didn't feel so good.
Then one day I was walking along the Seine, feeling sorry for myself.
When I look up, and I saw the towers of Notre-Dame.
And I said, "This is where I must put my wire."
"This is how I will redeem myself."
And so, under the cover of darkness, and with a false key Jean-Louis and I sneak into the cathedral.
I attach some fishing line to one of my juggling balls, and I throw it across to the other side where Jean-Louis is waiting.
Then, we attach this fishing line to a small rope, and we pass that between the towers.
Then we pass a larger rope.
Then, we attach this larger rope to the steel walk cable.
So, Jean-Louis and I stay up all night installing a wire between these two ancient towers.
And when the first tourists start to arrive in the morning, I begin.
And I succeed.
I perform my first surprise, illegal high wire walk.
This is also the first time I get the taste of this sensation.
This feeling that I'm crossing into a...
A truly different world.
And I was redeemed.
Or so I thought.
These Parisians, they know nothing but contempt.
They refuse to appreciate beauty.
Every other country, Germany, Spain, England, even Russia, they salute me.
They call me a maestro. They call me a valiant young poet.
But no, not the French.
They call me "delinquent." They call me "vandal."
-Philippe. -Vandall Look.
This is a sign.
In the same newspaper as my Notre-Dame story?
This is providence.
It says they're almost finished.
The lower floors are already occupied.
Annie! We need to pack.
They're a lot taller than I imagined.
It's not real.
These towers, they have no scale!
They just rise and never stop. It's not human!
It's over. It's over. It's finished.
-What's finished? -The coup! My dream! It's destroyed!
Do you see these monsters?
-These beasts! Beasts! -Calm down!
They just tell me it's not possible and nothing else!
There's no sign of possibility.
There's nothing telling me that it can be done.
How you doing?
There's stairs going up.
Go back to the hotel.
If I'm not back in five hours, look for me at the police station.
I make my way to the top.
Nobody stops me.
And I find myself standing on an island floating in mid-air; on the edge of the void.
Of course, I automatically look across to the opposite tower.
But then I have to dare to look down.
Now, I think I know the void.
I'm a wire walker The void is my domain, yes?
Well, not this void.
But, still I gather the courage to whisper I whisper so the demons won't hear me.
But I'll do it.
English. Only English.
We must learn to sound like New Yorkers.
Your so-called coup is a ridiculous joke.
-There. Have it in English. -That's why I have it all planned out.
Planned out? Who are you kidding?
You have no idea what's on the opposite roof.
You don't know what time the construction crews arrive or what time they quit.
You have no idea what the actual distance is between the towers.
Or how you're going to anchor the cavalettis.
How? There is absolutely no place to attach them to the facade.
And, by the way, how many days did it take you to build this maquette?
Come on. This is beautiful!
What are the cavalettis?
These guy wires.
Papa Rudy calls them "cavalettis."
They stabilize the walk cable.
The walk cable.
So, how do you intend to pass the cable across the void?
Well, just like we did at Notre-Dame.
We start with a fishing line attached to a rope attached to the cable.
And how do we pass the fishing line between the towers?
Yes, it is too far to throw the juggling ball.
But I was thinking we could get a radio-controlled airplane and fly the line across. This would be fantastic.
It takes years to learn how to fly an RC airplane.
-Do you understand that? -No.
We must accomplish the coup this summer.
The towers are almost built. We are running out of time.
I need you to help me pull this off. Think if we succeed.
This could be the most audacious
-work of art that has ever been done! -Audacious? Audacious?
-it's madness! -Yes, it's madness!
No one in his right mind would attempt this thing.
But that is why I must do it, because it has never been done!
And so, yes, I admit, I am mad.
-Yes! Wow, you are mad. -Yes! I am mad.
Are you completely insane? Yeah, I'm crazy!
Yes, you love me because I am mad!
I am insane! I am totally crazy!
I gotta go.
I'll figure out how to get the wire across.
-Yes! -You figure out how to anchor the cavalettis.
-Okay. Deal. -Do we have a deal?
The cavalettis cannot be vertical.
They must be horizontal, parallel to the walk cable.
-Parallel? -It won't be pretty but it will keep the cable from swaying.
And you must use three bolts on the cavaletti clamps.
Not two. A span this wide will put tremendous pressure on the brass plates.
And as you walk, your weight could crack a bolt.
You must remember to put wood blocks between the wire and the building's struts.
That way, when the building breathe, the wood will break but the wire won't explode and tear you in half.
Here's what you're going to do, Philippe.
You're going to wear a safety belt underneath your costume, attached to a safety line, connected to a carabiner A safety line?
I'm not going to do this walk with a safety line
-hanging off of me! -From that height, it will be invisible! No one will have any idea!
And what do I do when I get to the first cavaletti?
You're a performer.
You kneel down on the wire.
You unhook from side, clip it on the other.
-The audience will think you are saluting. -This I will not do!
-This I will never do! -So why'd you come here?
Because you know so much?
You tell me I'm wrong?
No. Because I need you to tell me how to rig this wire!
Not do a phony walk like a coward!
Philippe, you two are acting like children.
He does not comprehend one thing I am trying to do.
His high wire and my high wire, they have nothing in common!
Go talk to him.
-You want me to talk to him? -Yes! You go talk to him!
-You apologize and... -I will not apologize!
Yes, you do. You have no choice. You know that.
Look, Papa Rudy, I'm sorry. But...
If I do the walk with the safety line, it becomes meaningless.
My sons are consummate wire walkers.
And I would never allow them to attempt such a walk without safety line.
Yes, but would you?
Would you walk with a safety line?
Years ago, when you first started to teach me in this house, I was a stupid little kid and I never listened to you.
But you told me something I always remember.
You said, "You cannot lie on stage.
"The audience will always know what is inside your heart."
I think I understand now.
You know, Philippe, what you're doing, I may not understand it.
It was my grandfather's.
You'll need this.
And you'll need this.
Now my secrets are our secrets.
More! Annie, more!
-I'm trying. -You're a tempest.
You are the terrible, hurricane winds that howl between the towers!
-How are you? -Hello, hello!
It's good to see you.
So this is my good friend, Jean-Francois.
He wants to be an accomplice in the coup.
He's always in search of adventure.
Please call me Jeff.
An English name. Okay, I like this.
So welcome, Jeff. Welcome to the coup.
-Now, tell me, have you ever done... -Unfortunately, Jeff doesn't speak any English.
I speak a little English.
Six times six equal 36, for example.
Yes! So his English is not bad.
Yes, but only numbers.
He teaches high school mathematics.
He's also terrified of heights.
I'm terrified of algebra.
Welcome to the coup.
Now tell me, what is 81 divided by 27?
And you are accomplice number three.
Now, what is 11 times 10?
One hundred and ten.
110 stories. That's how tall the towers are.
Hey, guys? I believe I've kept my part of the bargain.
What is this, a bow and arrow?
Okay, this is not as sensational as a radio-control airplane, but it's a lot quieter.
It works! It works!
So now, I have enough money, I have my accomplices, I have somewhat of a plan.
The only thing left was selecting a date.
It had to be before the weather turned cold and before the towers were completed.
So I chose August 6th.
I choose August 6th!
That is three months from today.
Jeff and Jean-Louis fly to New York at the end of July.
In the meantime, we start looking for American accomplices.
So. August 6th.
Polypropylene ropes, hemp ropes, small block-and-tackle with three sheaves, large block-and-tackle with single sheaf, slings, steel wire, quarter-inch cable, pulley blocks, construction gloves, monkey wrenches, tape measure.
And a balancing pole in four sections.
And, what's all this for?
I'm going to hang a high wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center and walk on it.
As soon as we got back to New York, I started my spy work.
I went to the towers every day. Sometimes 6:00 in the morning.
And every day, I would wear a different disguise-
I took photos of everything.
I made detailed notes of every inch of the towers.
As you know, the North Tower has been completely finished for the last two years, and the South Tower is completed up to the 80th floor.
-Both towers are open for business. -Mr. Tozzoli, excuse me.
Toulouse Cezanne from the magazine L'Architecte.
Could you please tell me the exact distance between the north corner of the South Tower and the south corner of the North Tower?
The exact distance between the towers?
A hundred and forty feet.
A hundred and forty feet.
I rode all the elevators. The local, the express, the express to the upper sky lobby the express to the lower sky lobby.
I took hundreds of rides.
I spied on the maintenance men, the loading docks.
I watched the freight trucks as they made their deliveries.
What time do they arrive? How long do they stay?
How much paperwork is exchanged?
My greatest disguise was that of an architect.
I wore a tie and carried a blueprint, and I tried to look important.
And this gave me access to everything under construction.
Philippe, that looks really bad.
Maybe you should go to the hospital and get it stitched.
No, it will be fine. But look at the date!
The coup is three weeks from today.
Jean-Louis and Jeff arrive next week and I still have no access to the North Tower roof.
Are you going to be able to walk on the wire with that foot?
Yes, it will heal by then, but what am I going to do tomorrow?
How am I going to continue my spy work with this ruined foot?
-Do you need crutches? -No, I don't need crutches.
-Let me get that door for you. -Thank you.
Hey, there, let me help you with them crutches.
Here you go, sir.
-Express elevator. -Thank you.
I hope you heal up soon.
Yes, I think I'll feel much better in a few weeks.
-Floor? -Yes, 85, please.
Pardon me, but...
May I ask...
What are you doing here?
You don't belong here.
Yes, in fact, I'm quite right.
You don't belong here at all.
I knew it! Philippe Petit.
Daredevil wire walker.
I saw you in Paris on top of the Notre-Dame Cathedral.
-Yes! -Yes, wow.
You know, the cops had absolutely no idea what to do with you.
They never do.
-Barry. Barry Greenhouse is my name. -Hello.
So, you gonna be performing here in New York?
Yes, yes. And you, do you work here?
This man works on the 82nd floor.
But this could be very important if I can somehow seduce him into becoming an accomplice.
He works in the North Tower.
He has access to the stairwell and the North Tower roof Wait! Barry! One moment!
So Annie and I invite him to dinner
...Notre-Dame, the coup at World Trade Center will be very similar.
I bring my book of spy work and my clippings from Notre-Dame which he had already witnessed, so he knew I was serious.
And little by little, I paint for him, a picture And when the sun comes up...
Well, it's certainly illegal, that's for sure.
And extremely subversive, not to mention dangerous.
This is something only a twisted, antisocial, anarchistic, pissed-off malcontent would have anything to do with!
You have your inside man!
Welcome. Welcome, Jeff.
Very good. How are you?
-My friend. -Hey.
So, there they are.
Philippe, the coup is a disaster.
Why are we waiting for night to climb to the roof?
Because during the day, we are more likely to run into people.
But at night, when someone sees us, we have no excuse to be there.
No, but during the day, we will certainly run into some people and they will ask us where we are going.
During the day, you say, "I'm going to such and such office
"to see so and so!" But at night, you have no excuse.
Why are you shaking?
I told you I'm afraid of heights.
Afraid at this height?
I panic on a step stool.
And what about the guards?
There is one guard at night.
He stays only on the floors under construction.
We'll have no problem avoiding him.
-And he never goes to the roof. -Philippe.
-Philippe, where are you going? -We need to get an inter-phone.
This is what you want.
You want a walkie-talkie No, I want an inter-phone like this one with the wire.
-Like this one? -Yes.
-This thing here? You don't want that. -Yes, please.
This thing here with the wire? That's old-fashioned.
What you want... Look at this.
-Wireless. -No. Please, I just want this inter-phone.
-Like this, okay? -Okay, buddy.
You're not listening to me 'cause I'm trying to do you a favor here.
This thing is discontinued, which means I can't get you a warranty.
I don't care. I want this one. With the wire. Please.
Yes. Whatever you want.
-Thank you. Okay. -You're the boss.
Does he think we're a bunch of suckers? He's trying to con us.
What's wrong with a walkie-talkie?
We need a wire so the cops can't listen in.
If you're planning a drug deal...
...or robbing a bank...
You guys thought you were the only ones who spoke French in New York City.
I got it.
It's okay. By the way, I have nothing against bank robbers.
I say we invite him to dinner.
It's J.P. in America.
J.P., welcome to the Fisher Industrial Fence Company of Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Looks like the real thing.
-Who made this? -it's a long story.
I'll bet. So, do I get a job title?
Yes, because you've lived in New York the longest, I'll make you Personnel Director.
That's cool, man. I like that. What do I gotta do?
Find more accomplices.
I got just the guys.
I can help you rig a wire.
I'm unbelievable at tying knots.
Used to work on a shrimp boat.
Yeah, man, yeah. I mean, count me in, too.
Especially if that wire is really...
You get it?
You get it, man, really high!
Why the World Trade Towers?
Everybody I know hates those ugly boxes.
They look like two big filing cabinets.
Hey, right on.
You know what? Why don't we climb the Chrysler building, man?
That'd be a trip, right?
This is bad.
I don't trust these two
Can we count on these guys?
I had short notice.
Or two bums off the street.
Tomorrow! Tomorrow! The coup is on for tomorrow!
Tomorrow is the big day!
You all know the plan. The workers start to arrive at 7:00 a.m., so I must be on the wire at 6:00 a.m. You're not listening.
Why is nobody listening to me when I talk? Are you paying attention?
Philippe, you should eat.
Eat? How can I eat?
We have to go over the plan!
We've gone over the plan 20 times already.
Well, here comes number 21.
At 2:00 p.m., we load the van. J.P. drives.
We drop Jean-Louis, Annie and Albert at the North Tower.
You rendezvous with Barry.
He hides you on his floor until he can sneak you up in the stairwell to the roof.
The rest of us, that's you, J.P., you, Jeff, you, David, in our workers disguises, we bring the walk cable and the rigging equipment up in the construction elevator.
According to my spy work, we should be able to get up to the 82nd floor.
Then when the coast is clear, and as fast as we can, we bring everything up to the roof and we start rigging.
By midnight, we are finished!
Do you hear me? At midnight!
This gives me the time to sneak over to the North Tower and check the rigging.
Because I must have time to check the rigging on both towers.
Then at dawn, 6:00 am., I take my first step.
-I think we should wait. -No!
To find more competent associates.
It is now or never.
The carrots are cooked.
-What the hell is that about? -The French.
They love their culinary metaphors.
This is a country with 365 different types of cheese, one for every day of the year, for Christ's sake.
So, of course they use the vegetable metaphor.
Carrots are cooked.
Die is cast. There's no going back now.
Guys, what are we doing here?
Listen, I think what we're doing is cool but I do not want to go to jail.
Especially not because of some French guy who's obsessed with vegetables.
Jail. Man, that's a buzzkill, man.
The man is obviously crazy. So, what?
Are we just here to watch him die?
Does he even know how to walk a tightrope?
He knows how to walk on a wire. That's not the problem.
The problem is he's losing his mind.
He's maybe losing his mind, but he won't give up.
He never gives up.
He just needs our help.
I think he can do this.
It will be very... Beau?
It will be very, beautiful.
It was the night before the coup and, of course, I couldn't sleep.
I had forgotten something very important.
I 'd forgotten to nail shut the coffin.
Actually there was no coffin.
It was the crate holding the walk cable.
But, in my mind, I had changed this crate into a coffin.
What are you doing? You're waking up the whole neighborhood.
Well, I forgot to nail shut the coffin.
Stop calling it that!
A coffin is what this may be.
That's not funny. What's wrong with you?
Do you have a death wish or something?
Don't say this word! I never say this word.
Come on! Death, coffin, die.
-it's all the same thing. -Why are you doing this?
Why are you suddenly against me?
No one is more supportive.
Then why do you say this word?
Why do you put this thought in my head on the night before my most dangerous walk?
-Why are you so uncaring? -Uncaring?
-You're the most selfish, arrogant... -Yes, I'm arrogant! I have to be.
To walk on the wire, to command the wire!
And what about your partners? Your accomplices?
You don't offer them a simple thank you to let them know they're appreciated!
-They know I appreciate them! -Do they?
Yes! What do you want me to do? Go in there right now and tell them thank you?
I can wake them up and say "Thank you, everybody! Merci!"
-Just come to bed. You're exhausted. -Annie.
My head is full of doubts. I don't know if...
When I confront the void, when it's time to step on the wire, I don't know if I'll be able to take my first step.
Your heart will tell you what to do.
You're the only one that truly knows me.
It's because of you that I can do this walk.
You give me the strength and the ability.
Without you, I couldn't do it.
You'll be fine.
Everybody, wake up!
Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!
There's something I have to tell you that I have not said before.
Thank you. Merci.
Now get some rest. We have a big day tomorrow.
He's lost his mind.
Now as soon as we are all loaded into the van, I think to myself "Okay now it starts. "
The coup has begun.
My life is no longer in my command.
North Tower Plaza!
Come on, make it snappy. I'm in a red zone.
With the help of Barry our inside man, we unload Albert and Jean-Louis at the North Tower:
The plan was for Barry to hide them in his office until nightfall.
See you soon.
I love you.
I love you, too.
Albert and Jean-Louis both dress like impeccable architects.
They carry attache cases that are heavy because they're carrying equipment.
And they carry a blueprint tube that contains the bow and arrow.
I feel the incline of the ramp as we drive down into the loading dock of the South Tower and I knew, I knew we would be caught right there!
Hold it right there, cowboy.
You guys keep quiet back there.
What's your business?
Just another delivery. Fisher Fence Company.
Fisher Fence Company? What the hell's the Fisher Fence Company?
We put in the perimeter fence months ago.
Now they want us to come back in, tear it down and redo it.
All right. Down the ramp. Medium freight loading area.
That cop seemed really suspicious.
I almost crapped my pants.
You can get more in there.
-Hey! Hey! No way! No way! -No. No. No.
We got a delivery to the 82nd floor, Fisher Fence Company. It's all right here...
No, No. Only Met deliveries are going up.
They've got all the elevators leased today. Come back next week.
-Next week? -Yeah. Next week.
All right, come on. Go home.
Did you hear?
The elevators are rented. it's impossible today.
We're not moving. Change his mind.
We take a pause. Worker's pause.
Hey, excuse me, sir. Before I get outta your hair, can I get your name?
-Is that Sicilian? -It's Calabrese.
Good. Cause I got these Sicilian neighbors. They live two floors below me.
They're always cooking Calamari. It stinks my place up to high hell.
It'll do that.
Can you believe this S.O.B. Nixon?
If it was up to me, that son of a bitch would be in jail rest of his life.
You sound just like my old man.
He said this country went to hell in a handbasket the day Kennedy got shot.
That's for goddamn sure.
-What'd you say your name was? -J.P. I was named after J.P. Morgan.
So I sit there helpless, watching these workers.
And in my agitated mind, it looks like these workers are moving like snails.
Good night, boys.
Big day. Have a good one.
You wallflowers still here?
Look, Mr. Cielani, I'm gonna level with you.
If we don't make this delivery, we're gonna get fired, and Phil here, he's a dead duck for sure.
-What do you got? Where're you going? -82nd floor.
Hey, Jimmy! Take these frogs up to the 82nd floor.
-You're kidding me, right? -Come on. It's your last ride, okay?
-Okay. -Thank you, sir. Appreciate it...
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Come on. Quitting time!
-Which floor? -We're going to the...
The 110th floor.
110? There's nothing up there. That's just the mechanical floor.
Yes, but it is perfect for us. We need to be close to the roof.
The roof? Why the roof?
Because we have all the pieces for the antenna.
-The antenna. -And the antenna mast.
-The antenna mast. -And the electrified security fence.
We have all the components for the insulators.
Insulators. We have to measure...
Yes, until we measure, we cannot install any of the wiring.
The aerial system. We're four months behind.
It's a big problem.
Whatever. Just watch your fingers.
When we get to the 110th floor, we'll throw the equipment out.
You get this guy down.
We've had a lucky break.
This elevator is taking us to the 110th floor.
But this means that J.P. has to get this elevator operator back down.
If he stays with us, the coup is finished.
Jimmy. Really appreciate this, man.
Hey, let me buy you a beer.
These guys, they gotta offload. They got tons of inventory to do.
It's gonna take them forever. They'll find their way home.
-Whatever. Watch your fingers. -All right.
Kommedas. What is that, Greek?
I got a Greek guy living two floors below me, always eating lamb.
Nothing but lamb.
Oh, man. This is becoming a real bummer, man.
We unload here.
-Okay. -Oh, man.
We take the cable first. If anyone stops us, we tell them it's the antenna guylines
-This shit is really heavy, man. -Quiet.
I mean, like, really heavy.
Like heavy heavy, not bullshit heavy.
Oh, man. This scene is giving me really bad vibes, man.
Oh, shit, it's the pigs!
-Oh, man, the pigs are here, man! -Hide, hide, hide.
Oh, man. Oh, man. The jig is up, man.
Oh, man. Oh, man. This is freaking me out, man.
It's just down there.
-it's okay. -I can't do this, man.
I am wigging out, man.
Okay, just listen. We don't need you. You go. Okay?
-I'll go. -Go.
No, that stairwell.
No, that stairway to the 82nd floor.
To the 82nd floor, there's an elevator.
Listen, man. Look, I really want to help you guys do something radical.
Okay, man? But, you know... Oh, man!
Oh, man. I'm shagging ass, man.
Our only hope is maybe this guard will move to another floor or maybe once it gets dark we'll sneak past him.
But I must admit, by this time, I was very worried the coup was over already.
-Hey, I've been looking all over for you. -ls everything okay?
We hit a little snag, but I think everything's all right.
I can't believe they don't gate this shaft.
Somebody's gonna get killed.
So there we sit, balancing on this steel I-beam for an eternity.
And the worst part, the most painful part was our heavy construction shoes killing our feet.
I see the walkie-talkie, but I don't see the guard.
So what does this mean? Is the guard gone?
Is he still there, just standing outside of my view?
He wouldn't leave his Walkie-talkie unattended, would he?
I turn to Jeff and I see the terror on Jeff's face.
And his terror begins to seep into my mind.
And I start to conjure these hideous thoughts myself.
Time passes. I keep looking and looking and this walkie-talkie just sits there and I'm wondering, "What is going on with this security guard and his walkie-talkie?
"Is he just playing with me?
"Is he waiting for me to come out so he can laugh at me?
"Is he asleep?"
Then about an hour after nightfall...
Is the guard gone?
I don't see him.
Three hours behind schedule.
What's wrong with him?
I don't know.
Could be on drugs.
Or he's dead.
Look! He made it.
He's ready to shoot!
Watch the guard.
Jean-Louis and I had worked out some hand signals.
So now he was telling me he's ready to shoot the arrow.
He's supposed to signal, and then five seconds later; he shoots-
But after five seconds, nothing happens
I listen for the sound of the arrow hitting, but I hear nothing.
I look around. I see nothing.
I think maybe the arrow has flown too far.
So I wave my arms around hoping I'II feel this invisible fishing line, but I feel nothing.
Philippe! What the hell are you doing?
Looking for the fishing line!
So I take off my clothes, thinking that with more surface of bare skin I'll have a greater chance of feeling this fishing line.
Can I help?
No! Watch the guard!
The guard is gone!
So, I throw my clothes back on and we run our gear up to the roof as fast as we can.
Listen, I think we should get some rest and come back before sunrise.
You go. I'm staying.
-All night? -Yeah.
Annie, there's nothing you can do from down here.
Either Philippe is gonna pull this off or he's not.
Besides, you look really suspicious standing out here with some binoculars hanging around your neck.
Well, I'll keep moving.
-it's New York City. It's dangerous. -I'll be fine.
Wonder if Philippe knows you're still out here.
I'll bring you a donut in the morning.
Okay, good. He marked it.
Hello, hello, Jean-Louis. How do you hear me?
Loud and clear.
Okay, good. We have communication. I'm going to measure the rope to find out where to put the cavalettis.
But, whatever you do...
I'll guard it with my life.
Garbowski, you awake?
That's very funny.
I need you to check something down on 37th.
Yeah? What do you got?
How's about a pepperoni and sausage with extra cheese?
Now you're talking.
That was close.
We need an alarm signal.
Fine Okay. I bolted the cavalettis in place.
We're ready to pass across the wire. Are you ready?
Okay, first I pass the heavy rope, then the walk cable.
We got the rope.
Okay, we're sending the cable.
Hold it. Hold it! Hold it! Hold it!
We have a problem.
We will do everything we can to pull up the cable.
It's only a few hours before daylight.
We will do everything we can.
Philippe, this is crazy. We 're never going to finish at this rate.
Yes, we will. We will finish.
No, We're not! We're not!
We're all gonna get caught and go to jail.
And I don't want to go to jail.
And the rigging isn't safe.
I'm not gonna watch you fall. I'm leaving, okay. I quit.
Okay, Albert, listen to me. Yes, I agree with you, okay?
And if the rigging is not done by daylight and if the rigging is not safe, then I'll give up.
Hey, look who made it through the night.
-I got you a donut. -Thank you.
Hey, the wire's up!
Yeah, but it's not tight yet.
Philippe, are you there?
Yes, yes, I'm here.
The good news is the cable is tied off and secured on this end.
The bad news is Albert has quit.
Albert has quit. He said the sun is rising and the coup is off Wait, did you put wood between the anchor points and the cable?
Philippe, did you hear me? Albert is on strike.
He will no longer lift a finger to help me.
Not only that, he smuggled a camera up here and he's going to take pictures and sell them.
I knew it. I told you I knew we couldn't trust him.
Well my friend... it's just you and me.
And one more thing, you will always be my Photograph Official.
The cable's moving!
He's going for it.
Look. it's moving up.
Come on! I need your help!
The elevator is on its way up! The workers will be here any moment!
Follow me! We have to tighten the cavalettis!
Philippe, I can't do that!
Jeff, I'm begging you!
If you don't help now, the coup is over.
I can't do that.
Don't look down.
Don't think about it.
Help me review.
-Seven times seven? -Forty nine.
Nine times eight?
-Seventy two. -Okay.
Turn this way.
Stay here. I'll tighten the next one.
Don't leave me!
-Seven times eight! -Fifty-six.
-Ninety six divided by eight! -Twelve!
You did great. Thank you.
What were you going to do with that?
And that was the moment in my adventure I call, "The Mysterious Visitor."
I have no idea who he is. I've never seen him again.
And I can only imagine what he must have thought.
Now it's time for me to put on my costume.
But I have to do this privately so my dressing room is the very ledge of the building.
Not visible from the streets of Manhattan.
The dressing room is also something that Papa Rudy taught me.
This is where the transformation takes place.
This is where the disguised impostor, the intruder, becomes the performer.
Oh, my God! He's falling!
No, it's just his shirt.
It's just his shirt.
Hey. Nothing yet, hun?
Well, he better get cracking.
I lost my costume!
This is a tragedy!
The biggest stage of my life, and I lose my costume!
It falls off the edge. I have no costume!
I lost my turtleneck!
This is not my costume!
What should we do?
We do it. We do it anyway.
I walk in this ridiculous undershirt, but we do it.
I have one foot on the building and one foot on the wire.
And the outside world starts to disappear.
Jeff no longer existed.
My tower was deserted.
I no longer heard the sounds of New York.
Everything fell silent.
All I could see was the wire, floating out in a straight line to infinity
And if I were to shift my weight, I would become a wire walker
As soon as my entire weight is on the cable, I feel immediately a feeling I know by heart.
I feel the wire supporting me.
I feel the towers supporting the wire.
Oh, my God! He's doing it.
He's doing it! Do you see? Oh, my God!
He's doing it!
Everybody! Everybody stop! Look! There's a wire walker!
Yes! Yes! Yes! You did it!
I approach the first cavaletti, and it's upside down.
But I look closer and it seems okay.
Thank you, Papa Rudy for suggesting the three bolts.
Watch the birdie, Philippe.
Come on, Philippe. You're doing it. You're doing it, Philippe.
Oh, my God!
I arrive at the North Tower feeling the most intense joy, the most profound satisfaction I've ever felt in my life.
Philippe! Come on, Philippe. Philippe, okay. Yeah, working man. Okay.
All right, now over your right shoulder?
My friend, thank you.
I had finished my crossing, the coup was oven But then I looked over at the South Tower and it was still calling to me.
So I'm thinking, maybe I should get back on my wire.
He's coming back out.
And then I feel something that maybe I've never truly felt before.
I feel thankful.
So, I get down on one knee and I salute.
First, I salute the wire, then the towers, and then I salute the great city of New York.
Then, as I stand, I see two uniforms-
Christ Almighty, what the hell is that?
Hey! Get your hands on your head.
Get down! Get down!
Get your hands on your head. Down!
I'm French. I don't speak English.
Holy shit. This one's a frog.
French, I'm French.
You and twinkle toes are in a lot of trouble, you know that?
Just come on in and we'll talk about it, all right?
Okay, buddy. Come on.
Come on in. Yeah.
Okay. Come on.
These officers, God bless them, they remind me of my days when I had to run from the police.
But they can't follow me up here.
What the hell do we do now?
By now, I'm becoming aware of the people on the ground below, watching me My audience.
And even though this is something a wire walker should never do, I look down.
And it was...
It was peaceful.
It was calm and serene.
Did you hear that?
Someone's coming. Go. Go, go now.
Go, go, go. Go.
-Go, go, go. -Okay.
-They're over here. -We're on the roof.
What are you doing out there?
Jesus. Hey, get a load of this!
This fool has gone and lost his mind.
Hey. Hey, Pallie.
Why don't you come down off that thing, all right?
Why you doing this?
Okay, hey. Stop wastin' everyone's time!
Come on. Get down off that wire now!
Quit foolin' around.
Okay, hey, hard-on.
Hey, hey, hey.
Don't fall, buddy!
Hey, hey, don't go fallin'!
-Goddamn it. -Freakin' believe this little pissant?
Now with police on both rooftops, I have no choice.
I have to stay on my wire.
-Buddy. -No. No.
All right. You get him.
-I got your back. -Yeah, okay. I...
-You got me? -I got you.
-You got me, okay? -Yes.
Okay, come on.
-That's it. Nice and slowly. -All right.
-Let's go. -All right, come on.
-That's it. Nice and slowly, buddy. -Got it.
-Hold. -That's it.
Come on, buddy.
Here we go.
Here we go. Yeah.
Okay, man. Yeah.
Here we... Okay. One more.
-What... What are you doing? -Damn.
What are you doing?
-You S.O.B.! -Damn.
Now I've seen everything.
This dude is righteous.
He better start wrapping it up.
There's a storm front moving in.
Time to stop.
There on my back, the sky fills my vision.
they're like music.
Then, something appears.
This bird is looking at me.
And I feel this silent threat.
Suddenly I'm invaded by doubts.
I'm thinking maybe the cable is tired of supporting me.
What if my towers are talking to each other?
What if they've had enough? What if they decide to eject me?
No, no, no. He's okay.
I'm thinking maybe it's time for me to end this trespassing.
This is the New York Port Authority Police!
Remove yourself from the wire immediately.
You're in violation of about 100 city ordinances.
I want you off that wire immediately or we will be forced to take steps to remove you from it.
You tell him to come in!
They're crazy! They want to kill you!
They're going to cut the cable!
You tell him to come in!
They're insane! They're going to cut the cable!
But I can't end my walk on a moment of doubt with curled shoulders and hanging head.
I will only leave my wire and my towers in victory.
Nice and close, now.
I got you.
Reach. Grab him, grab him.
Attaboy. There you go.
Officers of the New York Police Department, thank you for your patience.
I announce my arrival to the police.
-My walk between these magnificent towers... -I tell them my work is finished.
...is now finished.
But my walk is not finished.
I still have three more steps to do.
Are you okay?
-Okay, come on. Come on. -All right.
-I got it. I got it. -Careful.
My name is Philippe Petit. I'm a wire walker.
-Get down, smart-ass. -Come on.
Bobby, hook him up.
Bring it in!
What'd you think?
Told you. Told you.
Oh, my God.
Philippe, you've done it.
No, no, no! No, don't cut the wire!
Don't cut my wire!
-Shut up! -No!
-Nobody gives a damn about your wire! -There's too much tension!
It will snap! It will hurt somebody! You have to believe me!
-Hold on. Hold on, guys. -You have to loosen it with the grip hoist.
He's right. Where's the handle?
It's hidden in a hole in the wall.
There he is.
Make a hole, make a hole!
All right. Out of the way!
Watch your fingers.
They're comin' down, Lou.
I gotta hand it to you damn frogs.
You sure pulled the wool over my eyes.
I gotta tell ya.
What you did was somethin'.
I know I'll never see anything like that again in my life.
You got guts, pal.
-Why did you do this? -Channel 6 News.
The world would like to know why are you doing this?
Channel 3. We wanna know why.
Why are you attempting something so dangerous?
There is no why.
Just, uh, because, uh...
When I see a beautiful place to put my wire, I cannot resist.
Later in the day, a judge sentenced Petit to walk the wire again.
But this time, in Central Park, for a crowd of children and only a few feet off the ground.
The story of the coup was in the news all over the world!
In France, when Papa Rudy heard about it, he was the happiest Papa Rudy that there is.
And when Papa Rudy's angry he's deadly angry.
But when Papa Rudy's happy his dogs get a double ration of food.
The most fantastic moment for me was when I saw you answered my shooting signal.
At that moment, I knew the coup would be a success.
What you mean? We almost lost the arrow.
It was on the edge of the building.
No. It was exactly where I was aiming.
So you admit it?
You wanted to see him in his birthday suit.
Okay. Okay, okay.
I would like to make a toast now.
To all of you, my accomplices.
I know I can be...
A bit difficult.
But, but you never gave up on me.
And because of this, I was able to walk on that wire.
So for allowing me this honor, thank you.
-You mean "cheers" -Cheers!
Look at that.
I mean, we did it, Philippe.
We showed the world that anything's possible.
Hey, Philippe, they're different now.
Yeah, that's right.
They're different because you walked up there.
You know every New Yorker I talk to now says they love these towers?
Perhaps you brought them to life, given them a soul.
Jean-Louis and Jeff, soon afterward, they returned to France.
But I stayed.
I was proud to become a New Yorker.
Now, in order to stay, I had to pay my debt to society.
So a judge mandated that I perform a free walk in Central Park.
And, of course, I was happy to do this.
Sadly, Annie returned to France.
Are you sure?
You accomplished your dream. It's time for me to find mine.
See you soon?
I'm glad the towers called you.
That was incredible.
-Just don't do that again. -No, never.
And you remember Guy Tozzoli from the press conference, one of the men behind the creation of the towers.
He loved the walk, and he gave me a pass to the observation deck so I could go anytime I wanted.
And I went there many times alone.
I would find myself there, looking at the void to see how the thought comes back, how the feeling returns.
Because it was...
It was a beautiful day.
And you know this pass I was given.
Well, these passes, they have a date on them, a date when they expire.
But on my pass, Mr. Tozzoli, he crossed out the date, and he wrote on it, "Forever."