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Essman, E. (2011). “… Backwards … [But Maybe Not] in High Heels.”. Fort Da, 17(1):118-118.

(2011). Fort Da, 17(1):118-118

“… Backwards … [But Maybe Not] in High Heels.”i

Review by:
Eric Essman, M.A.

If the film under review were a rockumentary, rather than the dare-diable sock-umentary that it is, then Philippe Petit, the eponymous “homme” who once famously dwelt in never-to-be trodden-again ways, would be called Little Phil, and we'd have witnessed the break-up of a band (The Talking Feet?) consequent to the (metaphorically) fatal aggrandizement of the fame-afflicted lead singer. Instead, what we do witness — comfortable in our safety-net(flix) positions as gawking spectators 110 stories beneath and nearly four decades removed from the this Little Buddha (previously incarnate as Chaplin's Little Tramp cliff-hanging in The Gold Rush or Harold Lloyd clinging to the hands of a skyscraper clock face in Safety Last) — celebrates the ne plus ultra of one-up-manship: “Top of the (Fucking) World (Trades), Ma!” ii That is, if he were capable of acknowledging that he had a Ma or Pa, much less a devoted community of brethren and a sister/lover to whom he owed a portion of glory … or a modicum of advice to succeeding generations of would-be jugglers, who just need enough skill to command a few sous for performing at street level adjacent to the Centre Pompidou (a.k.a., Musée de L'art Moderne), where this film will undoubtedly be screened in an infinite loop, perpetually immortalizing Petit Le Grand or Le Grand Petit as a dimensionless constant on the Möbius strip of his own never-to-be-repeated-by-any-carbon-based-organism-caught-in-the-wake-of-time's-arrow elegance.


i In a 1982 Frank and Ernest comic strip, cartoonist Bob Thaves wrote about Fred Astaire: “Sure he was great, but don't forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, backwards … and in high heels.”

ii James Cagney as “Cody” Jarrett in Raoul Walsh's White Heat (1949).

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