It’s been said countless times that the beauty of film is its ability to transport you to different places. From the emptiness of space in Gravity, to the streets of 1860s New York City in Gangs of New York, to even the whimsical confectionary world of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, movies are meant to take you places you’ve never been. Director Robert Zemeckis may have mastered this transportive sensation a little too effectively with his latest movie, The Walk, as reports are coming in that the high-wire film is causing people to actually throw up from vertigo.
The Walk tells the story of how Philippe Petit, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, walked a high-wire between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. Zemeckis uses computer generated scenery and 3D to give audiences a true-to-life perspective from 1,362 feet in the air over NYC. According to EW and Grantland journalist Mark Harris, the experience has been a bit too real for some viewers.
And if second-hand accounts aren’t proof enough, Denise Widman of the Boston Jewish Film Festival told the New York Post, “The last 20 minutes of the film I had to look away a couple of times because of the sensation of the height. I felt a little bit queasy. I felt nervous. It was a tingling sensation and some anxiety.”
“It felt very real,” filmmaker Percival Arguero-Mendoza added. “I felt a knot in my stomach. It’s like my head was reeling but I was not dizzy. The audience got a fear of him falling. It’s like actually picturing in your mind him falling. You really get a sense of depth.”
For Zemeckis, this all means that he made the film exactly as he intended. “[The goal] was to evoke the feeling of vertigo,” he said at the film’s premiere. “We worked really hard to put the audience up on those towers and on the wire.” Well, Mr. Zemeckis, mission accomplished with flying vomit.
by Ben Kaye