Thursday, October 23, 2008

Man on Wire at Fredonia Opera House

Opera House Cinema Series to Feature “Man on Wire”

FREDONIA – The fascinating documentary “Man on Wire” is the next featured film in the Cinema Series at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House. It will be screened Sat., Oct. 25, at 8 p.m. and again Tues., Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m.

On Aug. 7, 1974, a young Frenchman named Philippe Petit stepped out onto a wire illegally rigged between New York’s World Trade Center towers, then the world’s tallest buildings. After nearly an hour walking, dancing and kneeling on the wire suspended 1,350 feet above Manhattan, Petit was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation and brought to jail before he was finally released.

Petit had spent six and a half years dreaming of the towers and eight months planning the execution of his daring walk. Aided by a team of friends and accomplices, Petit overcame numerous challenges: he had to find a way to bypass the World Trade Center’s security, smuggle the heavy steel cable ad rigging equipment into the towers, pass the wire between the two rooftops, anchor the wire and tension it to withstand the wind and the swaying of the buildings. The rigging was done by night in complete secrecy. At 7:15 a.m., Petit took his first step onto the high wire 110 stories above the sidewalks of the city.

John Marsh’s documentary brings Petit’s extraordinary adventure to life through the testimony of Petit himself, and some of the co-conspirators who helped him create the unique and magnificent spectacle that became known as “the artistic crime of the century.”

The film is one of those rarities that scores a full 100% on Rotten Tomatoes’ critic summary. Carrie Rickey of the Philadelphia Inquirer calls the film “a heart-stopping, knee-buckling and transcendent account.” Peter Howell in the Toronto Star calls it “a celebration of human achievement. It soars with the promise that we are shackled to the ground only by lack of imagination and will.” Ty Burr of the Boston Globe calls it “a spine-tingling memorial to recklessness as art.” A.O. Scott of the New York Times calls it “thorough, understated and altogether enthralling.” Rated PG-13 for some sexuality, nudity and drug references, “Man on Wire” runs 94 minutes.

Tickets for the Opera House Cinema Series are available at the door for $7 (adults), $6.50 (seniors & Opera House members) and $5 (students & children) the night of each showing. For more information, call the Opera House box office at 716-679-1891. The Series continues with “Burn After Reading” on Nov. 1 & 4; “Bottle Shock” on Nov. 8 & 11; “The Duchess” on Nov. 15 & 18 and “Flash of Genius” on Nov. 22 & 25.

Chautauqua County’s only year-round performing arts center, the 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported not-for-profit organization located in Village Hall in downtown Fredonia. For a complete schedule of events, visit

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