There's a freeze-frame moment in Man on Wire, James Marsh's 2008 Oscar-winning documentary, in which French daredevil Philippe Petit can be seen midway between the World Trade Center's twin towers. He is 1,350 feet above Lower Manhattan, crossing the 200 feet of empty space between the buildings' tops on a taut cable. And a jet airplane is angling skyward behind him.
A jet. The twin towers. Need we say more?
But the beautiful thing about this image, and about Man on Wire, is that they bring the iconic skyscrapers - emblems of profound tragedy, of crisis and death - back to life. There is a human being there, a crazy, inspired human being, suspended 110 stories high - at the time higher than any building in the world. He has been plotting madly to do something to these massive tube-frame edifices, symbols of American capitalism. But his intentions aren't evil, they aren't steeped in fiery apocalypse.