Cave of Forgotten Dreams

2010

Action / Documentary / History

Synopsis


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October 26, 2011 at 02:03 AM

Director

Cast

Werner Herzog as Himself / Narrator
1080p
1.50 GB
1920*1080
English
G
23.976 fps
1hr 30 min
P/S 9 / 45

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Allison Lyzenga (MyFilmHabit) 3 / 10

Science With Grandpa

I went to see this movie over the weekend, and it was really one of the most amazing, and bizarre things I've ever seen. Werner Herzog takes a tiny camera crew into the famous Chauvet caves in France, giving us a glimpse of the amazingly preserved cave paintings I've only seen in text books up 'til now. Audiences get to view, en masse, a very famous location that they will almost certainly never be able to see in person because of the tight restrictions put in place by the French government to protect its pristine condition. And, better yet, if you see it in the theater like I did, you can see it in 3-D. This sounds like a really cheesy gimmick, but I assure you that the effect really enhances the experience, allowing us to really appreciate how the painters incorporated the natural curves of the wall into their drawings.

All this is pretty cool. But, then we have to endure Werner Herzog's own, particularly zany presentation of the material. He's got a pretty big reputation as a director, but I get the feeling he's getting a bit more eccentric as he ages. First of all, the film is about fifty percent too long. Everyone in the audience was squirming in their seats at about the sixty-minute mark. I understand that one's film needs to be a certain length in order for it to be taken seriously as a feature film, and Herzog achieves this length in one of the most amusing and tedious ways possible. There's only so much footage you can show of the actual cave and the art inside before the footage starts to become a bit redundant. So Herzog calls in a fleet of various "experts" to weigh in, and comment on various aspects of the cave. He's tracked down an assortment of the most delightfully odd, local crackpots. There's an "experimental" archaeologist, who gets into the sciency mood by dressing up in anachronistic and geographically inaccurate fur pelts. There's the master perfumer/spelologer, who looks for new caves by sniffing cracks in the ground for that "cavey" smell. The vintner/anthropologist who enjoys speculating on Paleolithic behavior and mythology, and favors historical reenactments. And, all these experts are pretty visibly pleased with themselves, grinning into the camera after giving us little demonstrations of their "science." It's all pretty endearing. And, these characters are all so very French.

The images of the cave are all pretty amazing. We really get to appreciate how perfectly the artwork has been preserved with the cave being sealed off for so many thousands of years. We can almost ignore all the strange "authorities" Herzog has marching through the film at such regular intervals. But, the tone of the movie was finally set in my mind by Herzog's wonderfully insane postscript. It's a meditation on humanity and culture, nuclear power and albino alligators. The moral conclusions he draws are pretty questionable, and the science is pure quackery. All you can really do is sit there with that wide-eyed stare, wondering if this guy is really serious, or if he's playing some big joke. Either would kind of be wonderful, but of course, for very different reasons.

Reviewed by buster1976 9 / 10

Mesmerising, beautiful and compelling

This is the first Herzog feature I've seen on the big screen and I had read a few reviews on here before going. It's worth noting that I went to the Greenwich Picturehouse cinema in London. The screen, seating, sound and facilities were first class. I'd urge you to see this somewhere with top quality projection and sound.

This is a film about some French caves that contain paintings and markings made up to 32,000 years ago. Herzog documents the difficulties in viewing these astonishing sights and the further problems in filming them. As he seems to be able to do in any situation, Werner finds the most interesting, possibly obsessed and eccentric people to help illustrate the remarkable nature of this cave network.

The film is in 3D. A special 3D camera was made due to the constricted nature of the caves and the early part of the film was shot on a non-professional camera. A few reviews have complained of noise from low light dancing in 3D before their eyes. I saw none of this at all - in fact the 3D was really well handled and didn't detract from the subject matter at all. The undulation in the rocks are part of the paintings - the people that painted them used the contours as the shape of the things they drew. All that said, I don't know how well the 3D will translate to the small screen.

The sound is entrancing. The score is haunting and majestic, much like the French scenery we see and swoop over. A few people have complained of the heartbeat noise that is heard over the "silence" that we're told to experience but I felt it worked well, even on the second occurrence.

There are some odd moments, keeping to Herzog's style, including a crocodile-infested biosphere on the Rhone which Herzog uses to describe the human impact on the environment in the area around the caves. A few of the cave-investigating scientists are odd too, but I imagine the Bavarian director's questions often create an impression of abnormality in the sanest of subjects. Some of the interviews reminded me of The White Diamond or the friends of Tim Treadwell in Grizzly Man.

I'm delighted to have seen a Herzog film on the big screen and felt that this was the equal of "Encounters" or "Grizzly Man". It doesn't have the edgy feel of La Soufriere but that's to its credit. Go see it if you can but make sure it's at the best screen you can.

Reviewed by Clarke 6 / 10

The subject matter was much more interesting than the documentary

Having only seen "Aguirre: Wrath of God", my Herzog experience was rather limited. I was excited to see this film because of it's fascinating subject material and because I had enjoyed my previous Herzog experience so much.

Now to the movie: The cave is incredible. They remark how fresh all of the art looks, and it's preservation and immediacy is truly astounding to reflect on over the course of the film. The film notes that certain pictures inches apart could have been drawn 5000 years apart. It really blows apart your comprehension of human history and time.

The narrative around the cave, however, ended up being an aimless collection of some facts, lots of speculation, and airy fluff about the "human spirit" that couldn't quite get to the core of what it wanted to say. You leave feeling like you've learned almost nothing about the cave or its people in the end. Twenty minutes of haunting, slow-panning shots of cave artwork would have had the exact same effect. No hyperbole intended.

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