Back in August 1974, Philippe Petit accomplished a feat that has never been — and will never be — replicated when he performed a high-wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center high above the streets of Manhattan. Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes on the role of Petit in the upcoming film The Walk, and the first trailer for the movie debuted online this week.
Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump), The Walk is based on a screenplay by Zemeckis and Christopher Browne that was inspired by Petit’s own novel about his experience, To Reach the Clouds.
The film follows Petit from the earliest conception of his mad plan to walk between the towers, through the planning and pitfalls his team had to overcome in order to pull off this very illegal, very dangerous undertaking. Along the way, Petit is aided by his mentor, Papa Rudy (played by Oscar-winning actor Ben Kingsley), and an international group of fellow performers and artists who aid him in attempting to do what no one had ever done before.
Along with Gordon-Levitt and Kingsley, the film stars James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz, Charlotte Le Bon, Clément Sibony, and César Domboy.
Petit’s famous high-wire walk between the World Trade Center towers lasted almost an hour and is credited by many historians as garnering some much-needed positive attention for the towers, which were still under construction and were not widely seen as a welcome addition to the Manhattan skyline at the time. The event was most recently chronicled in the 2008 documentary Man on Wire, directed by James Marsh. The film won the Academy Award as the year’s best documentary feature that year, along with a long list of other accolades. The event was also the subject of a short, 1986 documentary titled High Wire.
The Walk hits standard and IMAX theaters October 2. It will also be the opening-night film at this year’s New York Film Festival in September.