Man on wire

man-on-wire-posterBritish documentary from 2008.
Starring: Philippe Petit, Jean François Heckel, Jean-Louis Blondeau
Director: James Marsh
Writer: Philippe Petit
Bechdel test: Not applicable


Philippe Petit tight rope walked between the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York in 1974.


“Man on wire” builds up to one single event, the walk between the two towers, but in parallel story lines we are told the story of how the team prepared for the break in and preparations for that day, and their previous tight rope stunts. Each of the story lines contains interviews, reenactments and footage from the time. This all could easily have been a mess, but it comes together very well as a story. It even manages to build some tension, even though the highlight or climax of the story is clear from the beginning; Philippe walks between the two buildings.

It seems strange to do the Bechdel test on a documentary, so I have excluded them from my statistics and the test. If you want to read a little more about the Bechdel test and women in movies, check out my post on regulation of female behavior in movies.


The audio and visuals were quite typical of the genre, but the reenactments were nice in how if showed people with 70’s clothing, equipment and surroundings.

The interviews were quite honest and didn’t hide peoples negative sides. Nothing much was glossed over. (Or maybe there was more and what we saw was the tip of the iceberg.) Most of the people interviewed use quite flowery language to describe the events, which is refreshing and fun. They have also reflected a bit on what happened back then and can give some insights. They might be conflicting interpretations of behavior, but we all see and remember events slightly differently.

The story it self is that of a driven man who inspires the people around him to follow his dream.  He has a desire to walk between the two towers and works hard to achieve that. It shows that unique events are often the result of unique peoples hard work. The most remarkable about this group of people, is having this strange dream at all.

The tension in the story comes from the little details, and how everything had to go right. I still get a little chill from Philippe Petit’s description of how he at some point had to go from having his weight on the foot on the roof, to having his weight on the foot on the cable.


I liked “Man on wire”. It was entertaining and inspirational. As one interviewee said about Philippe Petit “To him every day is a work of art”. Not a bad thought to have at times.


I would recommend “Man on wire” to anyone with a few hours to kill. It’s not bad and could be a little inspirational.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Man on wire” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

49 movies down. 316 to go.

If you want to get “Man on wire” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Song of the little road” (“Pather Panchali”). Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

Planet Earth II final episode – Cities

Planet-Earth-2Still waiting for my year of movies, I have come to the final episode of Planet Earth II, the episode about cities. The show dealt with wild animals in cities and not our domesticated pets and livestock. They showed us many different animals living in different cities all over the world, however some of the more common animals that live around us, were luckily not shown. I’m talking about the once we don’t like to think about being close to us, like rats and cockroaches. Maybe the makers of Planet Earth II was also aware that we wouldn’t like to think to much about that.

There was one segment in the episode where they showed leopards living and hunting in Mumbai, witch was a reminder of something that is a little uncomfortable for us to contemplate. Still it imparted an important message; the animals will adapt to the cities, not just we humans.

They showed wildlife from, among others, New York, Rome, Toronto and Jaipur. And the animals were varied as well; raccoons, monkeys, hyenas, several types of birds, turtles, otters, and to my big surprise, catfish, and several others. And a diverse type of issues were addressed in the different animal segments; single mothers, sex, criminals, gangs, lost children and a lack of or an abundance of street smarts.

Most impressively though in this episode was Singapore; an environmental city that invites wildlife into this man made habitat in the most beautiful way. Why can’t my city be like that?

Over all, I think the Planet Earth II series is glorious and well worth a watch, and it high lights many environmental issues. My hat’s off to the makers of the show.

Many of the other documentaries from Sir David Attenborough show a longer segment for each animal’s story, and we get to see a longer period in their lives, I missed that a bit in Planet Earth II, but it didn’t detract much. In stead of getting a closer look at some animals over a period of time, we get a closer look at six habitats and the different adaptions to this habitat. Still, sometimes I did wounder what happened next, after the film crews left.

I do however think this is the most beautiful of all the documentaries from BBC that I’ve seen, and any minor thing that detracts from the show is only nitpicking.

Even though the animals are the stars of the series, I will miss listening to the narration of Sir David Attenborough every day. This show is definitely worth a second and third viewing. (Maybe even a forth.)

As it turns out, I’m not the only one who likes Sir David Attenborough. The animals that meet him are a little enamored as well.

I love these videos of how animals have reacted to their meeting with Sir David Attenborough. There are a few more on Youtube.

If you are hungry for even more Planet Earth or more of the voice of Sir David Attenborough, you could try the Planet Earth 360 interactive videos.

Here is one where you have to spot animals in the jungle. There are more on YouTube.

If you’re interested in buying Planet Earth on Amazon, here’s a link for that (it’s for both seasons, including the second one that I have talked about here). But I’m sure you can find the show elsewhere as well.

They even have a book called Planet Earth II, a large and thick volume filled with amazing photos and loads of interesting information on the six habitats in the show. There’s also a chapter on how they gathered the footage in the book and on the show. This book would make a nice Christmas present for someone interested in these subjects, like me.

Sir David Attenborough’s quote from back of the Planet Earth II book seems like the best words to sum up these posts about the TV show:

“Planet Earth II” gives us a greater understanding of the natural world, the way it works and what it needs if it is to continue to survive.

Photo at the top of the post was taken by By Bijaya2043Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Original photo. It shows a male of the genus Macaca in a city holding a water bottle.

Grasslands watched, coming up: cities

While I wait to begin my year of movies, I now watch the TV show Planet Earth II, and today’s episode was called Grasslands.

First of all, I am a little biased in favor of this episode. I love grasses, it is what I study as a botanist, and I want everyone else to see how amazing and important these plants are. And Planet Earth shows this very well.

This grasslands episode explains how many creatures depend on grass, and how difficult that can be with grass being a seasonal plant. They showed some incredible footage of storms and rain on the Russian steps and in spite of this, I now want to visit these steps and look at the grasses. Even more than before.


Saiga Antelopes (Saiga tatarica)

They showed an animal living on these steps called Saiga Antelopes (Saiga tatarica) and they look like aliens. I would not have been surprised to see these animals in a sci-fi adventure. This is a good example of cool and exiting animals that are threatened. And another good reason to travel to the steps.

The whole episode is worth watching just for these beauties.

There were also many other species featured, and with loving care, humor and knowledge, their behaviors were explained and shown.

The sounds of nature were again a great help in getting the feeling of being there, of seeing it with my own eyes.

Again the narration is great and I turned up the volume, just to hear it even better.


Screen-grab from reindeer migration hour-by-hour live on TV and website of NRK.

The episode even showed some migrating caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), and if you wish to see more of a similar nature, there is currently a showing of slow TV at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) website of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) migration. It is a few days of live broadcasting of reindeer moving through the landscape (and what a beautiful landscape) in northern Norway. Only accompanied by the occasional music, and some of the music is Sami.

And if you’ve seen the grasslands episode of Planet Earth II, you must have discovered the beauty of grass. I hope.

Tomorrow I will watch the last episode of Planet Earth 2 called Cities. Here is a little sneak peak. Looks very promising.

Photo at the top of the post was taken by Niraj GawandOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Original photo. It shows a Black Buck wandering in the grassland of Velavdara, Gujrat, India.

Deserts seen, grasslands tomorrow

While I wait for my year of movies to begin, I have started to watch Planet Earth II, and today’s episode was about deserts.

Deserts are probably my favorite habitat to study, and the part of me that is a botanist always want more about plants, but other than that, this episode of was perfect. The hard environment of deserts and the difficulty in adapting to the daily and yearly changes, for both animals and plants, was well told, and shown.

Some of the adaptions we saw in this episode are almost hard to believe exist on this planet, and some of the landscapes as well.

Footage, sound. narration (maybe especially narration), story and everything else that makes up an episode was impressive and interesting. I was watching wrapped the whole time, and I learned several new things. And some things that I’ve only ever read about came to life in my living room.

Only two episodes to go now, and tomorrows episode of Planet Earth II is about grasslands. Here is a small preview.

Photo at top of the post was taken by MostafamerajiOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Original Photo.

Jungle today, next is deserts

While waiting to start a year of movies, I now watch Planet Earth II. Today I saw Episode 3 – Jungles, and it was an incredible masterpiece in photography, storytelling and sound. Well worth a watch.

Maybe center stage today was taken by the sounds of the jungle. Most surprising was all the little noises of bugs and other creepy-crawlies. Perhaps I have gotten used to equipment that doesn’t capture these noises, or maybe the makers of this program have added sound effects later. Regardless, I was surprised when the centipede (or was it a millipede?) clicked across jungle debris with the clear sound of all its feet. Just to name one example. And many of the insect noises were helpful in communicating the lives of these little jungle dwellers. Creepy, yes, but also the sounds of life.

The episode also conveyed the message of how jungle habitats are rapidly disappearing, leaving some species with much less available territory, without belaboring the point. Elegantly done.

An episode I wholeheartedly recommend.

So instead of the show going on about deforestation, I will. A little.


This photo shows the Amazon Rainforest. Photo by NASA and it is in the Public Domain.

This is what NASA says about the above picture.

The Amazon Rainforest appears to have been colored solid with a green crayon in the western portion of this true-color image of northern Brazil captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on July 1, 2002. The Amazon River flows into the scene at the center left edge, a meandering brown line that widens as first the Rio Negro joins it from the north and then the Madeira joins it from the south. The Amazon flows eastward, eventually spilling its brownish, sediment-laden waters out into the Atlantic Ocean.

At bottom right and bottom center, deforestation and cultivation are evident by the regular, rectangular shapes that delineate plots. Fire is a common means of clearing land and this type of slash-and-burn agriculture is having a devastating impact on plant and animal communities as well as people who are native to the forests. MODIS has detected numerous fires (red dots) and thick smoke is visible at bottom left.

Once an impassable jungle, the Amazon is now crossed by at least a few roads, which make pale green lines across the dense forest. Cross hairs extending outward from the road may be a harbinger of future development.

Source for image and quote: NASA’s website

Tomorrow it is time for the episode about deserts, and here is a sneak peak.

Photo on top of the post shows the Amazon River flowing through the Amazon Rainforest. Image by NASA and it is in the Public Domain.

Mountains watched, jungle coming up

The mountain episode of Planet Earth II was just as amazing as the first episode. Everything was beautiful, and exciting. Not much horror in this episode, thankfully, but the drama of nature was just as present in every segment.

Incredibly funny flamingos.

Tomorrow I will watch episode 3 about the jungle. Maybe you want to do the same? Here’s a little clip to tempt you.

Photo at the top of the post was taken by Ximonic, Simo Räsänen – Own work, CC BY 2.5 and shows “Trollveggen” wrapped in clouds. This is not very far from where I live, and this looks like home. Many such majestic mountains were shown in Planet Earth II – Episode 2: Mountains.

Islands today, mountains tomorrow

Planet Earth II: Episode 1 – Islands.

An amazing documentary episode. It was a drama and a thriller, with some romance, a little bit of horror (I got the hibi-jibies from the snakes at least) and some comedy. And such amazing images. The music played up to the stories perfectly and Sir David Attenborough’s narration was, as always, perfect.

I really want to travel now. Maybe a trip to Madeira next month will give me some island views and satiate a little of my need for travel.

Today, on Earth Day, the message of the show, care for our planet and see what amazing rewards we get in return, is so apt.

Amidst the strange opinions about science where even the most obvious results of human scientific endeavor has to be explained to adults as if they just emerged from caves, it is good to see how a brilliant TV show flaunts it’s scientific foundation.

Tomorrow I move on to Planet Earth II – Episode 2: Mountains.

Some unique tips on perfume there.

If you want to watch along tomorrow, BBC might have some tips on where you can watch Planet Earth II.

Photo at the top of the post was taken by Mwanner Title of photograph: Small Island in Lower Saranac Lake, CC BY-SA 3.0.

While we wait

In honor of Earthday, I’m gonna watch Planet Earth II over the next few days. Today is episode 1 – Islands.

Maybe this is the right activity for you too after an Earth day spent biking, planting, marching or whatever else you did today.

And if nothing else, watch the preview of a sloth looking for love on a paradise island.

Photo at the top of the post shows a Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus) at the Buffalo Zoo and is taken by Dave PapeOwn work, Public Domain