Ep. 117: Man on Wire, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and Chimpanzee

This is a triple feature: I cover 3 documentaries that I love. This genre is not always the pick for movie buffs but I have a soft spot in my heart for it. There is something special about the fact that they are not just based on true stories, they are the stories themselves! I recommend all three of these documentaries to you. Below is some writing I have done on them if you are interested. Otherwise, sit back or do whatever you’re doing and enjoy the audio!

Man on Wire

My Rating: 9/10 – Phillipe Petit is the subject of the feature film on this event. This is a different film, a documentary covering the idea to walk on a tightrope across the late World Trade Center. This film is much better than the Hollywood version. It does an amazing job of bringing you into Petit’s world and even onto the wire itself.

Man on Wire“A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit’s daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City’s World Trade Center’s twin towers in 1974, what some consider, “the artistic crime of the century.”” -IMDB


Philippe Petit Himself
Jean François Heckel (as Jean-François Heckel) Himself
Jean-Louis Blondeau Himself
Annie Allix Herself

Directed by

James Marsh

Written by

Philippe Petit

Other Info

Fri 29 Aug 2008 UTC
IMDB Rating: 7.8

The early part of the film shows Petit practicing his unicycle and wire walking skills in Paris. He knew he was destined to do something amazing with his talents but he didn’t know what. Early on, in a dentist’s office he saw the towers in a magazine and got his inspiration to do it.


The best feature of this film is that you get Petit himself talking about why and how he pulled off this feat of art. The amount of work and stealth trickery involved is staggering. It is mindblowing what he was able to do but you keep asking yourself, “why?”

In comparison to the Hollywood version, this film draws you in to a real event. That’s why this one makes my great 100 list and the Hollywood version does not. The documentary is not perfect in that it does contain a lot of interview footage, and that can get less than exciting if you aren’t really into the topic.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011)

Extremes in geology have always amazed me like how lava is melted rock. To watch a film about caves and paintings that are 32,000 years old, captivated me. Werner Herzog did an amazing job explaining and presenting these ghostly artifacts.

“Werner Herzog gains exclusive access to film inside the Chauvet caves of Southern France and captures the oldest known pictorial creations of humanity.” -IMDB


Werner Herzog Himself/Narrator
Jean Clottes Himself
Julien Monney Himself
Jean-Michel Geneste Himself

Directed by

Werner Herzog

Written by

Werner Herzog

Other Info

Documentary, History
Fri 25 Mar 2011 UTC
IMDB Rating: 7.4

Among other arcane effects in these drawings, the most alluring to me was the “animated” horse head. The cave person tried to make the animal appear as it does in life, moving.

I think about the significance of the years gone by. We lie about 100 years in one lifetime. 32,000 divided by one lifetime then is 320 lives back to back, one death signaling a birth every 100 years and so on, 320 times. All those lifetimes ago, someone painted these cave walls. The film takes you into the caves and tells you haunting stories that summon images of people like us, living and creating art.

An archaeologist explains in vivid detail the mental anguish he suffered being in the cave for weeks doing studies. It’s one of the most powerful moments in the film for me. I can almost feel what he’s talking about. Seeing what they painted without seeing them. He is, and so are we through the film, observing a way of life portrayed in images without having anyone connected with and living it to explain.

If their way of life seems simple to us now, how will future generations view ours? In fact, will ours have any artifacts at all?

This is an example of a perfectly done documentary film. I highly recommend it.


No review for Chimpanzee available at this time. It’s just great, go see it!

Author: Damien Riley

I post film reviews both written & audio. I'm a writer & podcaster, BA/MA English from Cal State Fullerton. Based in: Victorville, CA, USA My film review site is rileyonfilm.com

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