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Saturday, 8 October 2011

Movie Review: Cave of Forgotten Dreams(2010)


Please note I didn't happen to catch this in 3D.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams takes us on a literal journey, into the Chauvet caves in southern France. It has a very authentic feel; bringing the viewer in as part of the research team in it's tense opening moments. We wait in darkness, our only light is the team’s meagre "cold" lighting... As they first access the cave there is an overbearing sense of tension in these moments that will stay with us as we advance in this underground monument to the evolution of art. 

Herzog lends his narration skills to the film, something he's perfected over many documentaries. He warns us that they will be extremely limited in what they’re able to access, going in with less of a crew than he would have liked, they are limited to moving along a small set path through the cave as merely stepping on the ground will destroy centuries old footprints and bone fragments whose impact on archaeological research could prove incalculable. 

Herzog also lends a film maker's eye to ancient drawings lining the cave walls. His linguistic poetry is certainly an asset to the film, much of the documentary is devoted to Werner Herzog's musings on art throughout the ages, including but not limited to how the differing paintings in the cave show humanities early techniques and progress.

  The Director takes the time to examine the surrounding area highlighting a crude musical instrument that would have been used in our ancient past along with early sculptures. There is a crude rendition of 'the Star Spangled Banner' which caused many to chuckle across the theatre, but the really interesting narration comes when Herzog steps back and allows the research team's to narrate there own sections of the film; providing for the most informative and interesting sections of the film. 

The film also takes great care of the ecosystem that would have existed within the cave, reviewing and focusing on the bones littering the cave floor. Whether the creature lived in the caves naturally or they wound up in the cave through some other means.

We are introduced to his motley crew of underground researchers including a circus performer turned archaeologist and a bug-eyed perfumer who smells for underground caves and seems to fully hijack the film for about 10 minutes after he arrives on force of personality alone. 

The researchers are all interesting characters in there own right, and their depiction goes a long way to put a face to the team moving behind and at times in front of the camera. In fact their opinions on the nature of art and formation of the cave are possibly the most worthwhile content of the film. 

Overall the film is interesting, full of artistic flourishes but may be to dry for some.  Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a fascinating look into our natural world and humanities development as artistic beings. It has intriguing characters, and stunning imagery; not the least of which is natural formed within the cave. It will show you parts of the world you've never before seen, possibly parts of yourself that you could have never imagined, you may very possibly be a better person after experiencing it for yourself. 

8/10