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Cave Of Forgotten Dreams
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Werner Herzog was a very privileged man indeed to gain access to the Chauvet cave in France's Ardeche region. Lascaux cave, once known as the Sistene Chapel of prehistoric cave painting has now been superceded by Chauvet, which was discovered by three fortunates only in 1994. This remarkable cave was fortunately covered by a landslide thousands of years ago which preserved the cave art, in some cases as if it were only done yesterday. These beautiful paintings give us a real link to our Paleolithic ancestors of 30,000 plus years ago. That is incredibly just how old some of these paintings are. Far older than anything previously discovered. The cave is still scattered with the bones of long extinct species like the cave bear and cave lion. Some of the paintings are breathtakingly beautiful with a fluidity of movement that any great artist would be proud of. Perhaps the centrepiece is a jaw dropping collection of horses one above the other, with two woolly rhinoceros engaged in a fight below them which beggars belief. Some of these ancient artists working with primitive tools created wonderful art. They were the Leonardo's of their distant time! Some ingeniously used the natural contours of the rock to give more realism to their pictures. These people had to literally get inside an animals head to track and kill them successfully, an art that has been lost in modern times with the demise of the last bushmen of the Kalahari and the native aboriginals of Australia. It is only with that knowledge that an individual could create such paintings. The dying bull at the Altamira cave in Spain is perhaps the greatest example of this.
Werner Herzog is able to capture this lost world amongst the shadows of the cave.Read more ›
The caves remain secret and for the most part sealed; open for only a few days a year to a small number of researchers in order to prevent damage to the paintings, which could be harmed even by a rise in atmospheric CO2 from human breath. However, after years of trying, Werner Herzog was allowed to take a camera crew into the caves for those few days to capture this frankly amazing 3D documentary.
The walls of the caverns are decorated with horses and rhino which look as if they could have been painted last week, and scattered amongst them are smaller, more personal momentoes - someone, tens of thousands of years ago, left his handprint in ochre on the walls throughout the complex, and in the corner of one cave the footprints of a child and a wolf cross the floor together. It's these human reminders in amongst the archeology and geology which Herzog uses to try and cross the vast gulf of time between us and the artists to try to understand who the people were who made the pictures. What did they think or believe the pictures were for? Art alone, or in some way ritualistic? What purpose did the caves serve for these people? Who were they? Were they like us?
The documentary ranges widely through archaeology, prehistorians and geology to try and develop an answer to the questions, but at the end of the day time separates people from each other as much as distance and the people who created the art remain as unknowable to us as if they were on Mars.Read more ›
Firstly the Good. Herzog is a quizzical, unhurried guide who takes us right into the experience of actually entering and exploring the cave, just as much as he takes us to the stunning cave art itself. There is an attempt to put the art in some sort of context by interviewing experts who have studied the art or who have deeper experience of the prehistory surrounding it. Herzog's interviewing technique (if it can be called such a thing) is wonderfully unexpected. Having taken us deep into the cave and given us a remarkable sense of the physical environment, Herzog goes back to each panel in careful detail. The final section films these anonymous masterpieces in 3D and in shifting light to give an absolutely uncanny sense of being there. As far as the art itself is concerned, it would be impossible to imagine it better filmed. The glacial pace of the story telling is, in this context, really welcome. You have the opportunity to truly experience and absorb the paintings in a manner that we rarely experience on film.
Now for the Bad! I have already mentioned the glacial pace of the film and I would imagine that some viewers will find it unbearably slow. I find the music dismal when it isn't positively irritating and I turned the sound off so that I could actually enjoy looking at the cave art. I also think that there are numerous missed opportunities to place the art in the context of the lives of our ancestors. Admittedly, we are still dependent on a great deal of speculation but, even so, there is so much more that could have been added. I was also baffled as to why the original discoverers were not interviewed. Why were they searching here?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the most important 3D film that I own. Viewed on 100’ projection screen it takes me into a cave with drawings on the walls. 36000 years ago. Read morePublished 6 months ago by ...
Bought for academic purposes. The subject was good but the handling of the subject was somewhat unusual to say the least.It is high priced for what it is. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Graham
Delighted to see the images. Unfortunately the narration left a lot to be desired. I'm not much more informed than I was before. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Irish migrant
Although birds and whales and other creatures sing in their fashion, spoken language is a cultural adaptation of only one animal group on Earth, a hominid called homo sapiens,... Read morePublished 9 months ago by J. L. Sievert
Demanding movie about something what relates to our forgotten past . What is it ? Life on the planet Earth what we are part of it. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Zdenek Hanzlik
Simply stunning images of a once lost and hidden world. The 30,000 year old cave drawings "come to life" under Herzog's camera. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Paul S. Hyett