Monday, September 5, 2011

Box Office Review - Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Director Werner Herzog is a very good tour guide. In 2007 he took audiences to Antarctica and showed something more than just penguins. In Cave of Forgotten Dreams he takes audiences to Southern France and into Chauvet Cave to show them the oldest cave paintings so far discovered. Along the way he discusses the human soul and albino alligators.

I was already familiar with the majority of the Chauvet cave paintings before watching this documentary, but watching this film is like seeing them for the first time. If you told the average film goer to watch a documentary about cave paintings there likely response would be disinterest. When I first heard about the film, my excitement came from wondering how Herzog would make a feature documentary about cave paintings. You would think that the best way to see the paintings in Chauvet Cave would be through still photography, but in reality the paintings are best viewed on film. I never would have guessed that. Even with the minimal equipment that was used (Herzog was only allowed three crew members and lights that didn't emit heat) the cave is documented spectacularly well. From the two foot wide walkway that Herzog and his crew worked off of, they bring to life the 30,000 year old paintings.

As with all of Herzog's documentaries, he is able to take whatever the subject matter is and weave a human element into it. In this he can't resist commenting on one of the scientists past career as a circus performer, as well as featuring a master perfumer who uses his sense of smell to locate hidden caves. All these touches are what make Herzog a unique director, and I have come to expect and look forward to these personal touches in his films.

I greatly enjoyed Cave of Forgotten Dreams and found it as informative as the research that I had previously done on the Chauvet Caves. Unlike the incredibly dry research, Cave of Forgotten Dreams brings to life the cave paintings and provides some fascinating incites and theories on these ancient creations.

A Gold Banana

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