Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams: Documentary Review


Exploring the earliest artwork that we forgot but nature remembered.

Shot entirely in 3-D, we enter the cave exactly as the filmmakers did and just as the handful of scientists did when they first discovered it. The Chauvet cave is located in Southern France and was discovered in 1994, perfectly preserved for 20,000 years. The documentary is a history lesson on the oldest known human pictorial creations.2010

Directed by: Werner Herzog

Screenplay by: Werner Herzog

This documentary isn’t about debating if the age of the paintings really is 32,000 years old, or if radiocarbon dating can give us an accurate time line for the elements of the cave. It is somewhat about what these early humans were trying to tell us with some of their drawings. For instance, one with the head of a bison and body of a woman, I found very intriguing. What it is about in its entirety, is examining the beauty of the art, and the beauty of the archaeologists who just want to immerse themselves in it.

Werner Herzog has a fairly quiet narration in the exploration of the cave, occasionally pointing out interesting drawings or formations. He interviews a collection of eccentric international historians and scientists, who usually have a curious way of drawing metaphors to describe the profoundness of the cave. At all times they were mostly amusing and entertaining, if not all that relevant (one perfumer tries to sniff out hidden caves with no success).

Most reviewers have found the 3-D angle to this film to be mostly pointless, but my take on that is the opposite. I was hooked with the first foot-steps that it felt like I was taking on the narrow wooden pathway along the cliff wall leading to the disguised cave opening. I was peering around the cave walls trying to see the continuation of the painted panels. It’s exactly the type of movie that should be added to the current 3-D filmography.

Produced in part by the History Channel, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” is an opportunity for all of us to collectively build on the history of our ancient ancestors, that we have forgotten about, but nature did not.