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Zemeckis gains star for 3D Man on Wire film

ToWalkintheClouds.jpgRobert Zemeckis has found a leading actor for his next film, a film about Philippe Petit, the man who walked the tight rope between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974 and who was the focus of the recent well received documentary Man on Wire.

The film, To Walk in the Clouds, is going to be made in 3D and is described as an experimental film which is going to concentrate heavily on effects. While that works for the story itself I am a little concerned.

Robert Zemeckis has had a run of films filled with motion capture and special effects which just haven’t managed to capture audiences. Cue Flight (Filmstalker review) which delivered a film with an excellent story, and a superb character who was written and performed wonderfully, Denzel Washington was fantastic in the role and the film was superb. Oh yes there was a big CG scene but that film was much more character and story based, and the amazing performance.

So with the success of that film you’d think that people would have perhaps advised him against going back to films that were going to be heavily focused on effects. It’s not even as if his return was a better film but not fantastic, it was fantastic. We realised what we’d been missing.

However I maybe shouldn’t be so concerned, and neither should you, although this film is promising that it’s going to be effects heavy surely that’s just to recreate the amazing sequences atop the World Trade Centre towers?

Well that’s what I’m hoping but in the article in Deadline they do say:

”Production will begin in May on this 3D experiential film that will be done with the spectacle of Avatar, Life Of Pi and Gravity…”

Does that suggest that this is just to recreate the experience at the top of the Towers? Well perhaps, after all Gravity (Filmstalker review) had new technology and new techniques for filming and while it looks fantastic you wouldn’t necessarily compare it with the ground breaking Avatar (Filmstalker review).

Considering all this I’m now of a different opinion, this isn’t Robert Zemeckis going back to those effects heavy films and falling from the heights that Flight (Filmstalker review) lifted him to. Flight had a lot of effects but it wasn’t at the core of the film, that was character, writing and performance. This is going to be the same isn’t it? The core of To Walk in the Clouds is not going to be the Towers it’s going to be the people who carried out such an amazing and crazy stunt, it will be the characters of Philippe Petit and his crew, the effects are just to get us to them.

That idea is compounded by a description of the plot which tells us that the actual tight rope walk won’t feature until the third act and it will balance the idea of a man chasing an impossible dream – Petit had heard about the Towers before they were started and decided then he would climb them – and the planning and carrying out of the audacious and illegal act.

I’m not going to talk through the entire story and reveal too much, I would urge you to watch the fantastic Man on Wire first and then prepare yourself for the possibility of a stunning dramatic recreation of it all.

I’ve talked myself around and I hope you’re in the same place as I am now, and the final push forward towards this film is who is taking the lead and, according to the Deadline article, has already accepted the role. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is to play Petit.

Apparently this is a passion project for Zemeckis and Gordon-Levitt sounds like a good choice for the film, although he might not have the accent he was a gymnast in his younger years and he has the build and the energy for such a character. Oh, and he’s a damn good actor to boot.




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