What movie was that...?

26 June 2011

The Cave of Forgotten Dreams

directed by Werner Herzog

I just have one thing to say to any documentaries set to come out this year: I hope you like silver medals, because there is no way any of you are coming close to the power, artistry and sheer wonder of Werner Herzog’s 3D masterpiece, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams. The words Werner Herzog and 3D are words I never thought I would use in a sentence, but his film is the only modern 3D film that actually makes a case for the technology. To experience the Chauvet cave through this medium (the cave is sealed off to all but a few scholars and scientists. No regular folks.), through the delicate and time tested genius of Herzog, is to truly have a filmic experience. For those of you who don’t know what the hell the Chauvet cave is, it is a cave system in France that remained sealed from all contact for over 30,000 years, until a team of cave divers discovered it in the mid 1990s. Inside, they found examples of cave paintings that predate all others previously studied, paintings of truly magnificent work. We’re not just talking about a couple of squiggles on a rock, here. The Chauvet paintings are dynamic, alive, a story told using the contours of the rock faces themselves. Many of them even seem to have a multiple exposure effect similar to an animatic or an animator’s storyboards, an effect that creates movement and life with jaw dropping result. At a time in human history when Neanderthal Man still roamed side by side with us, these paintings show us a glimpse into a creative spark ignited from the ether. Herzog was granted unprecedented access to the cave (which will probably never happen again), and truly he was the right person for the job. The marvel is that Herzog doesn’t do anything particularly special in this film (unless you call shooting what he was able to shoot under such logistical shortcomings, and a crazy time crunch), instead simply documenting in his way the magic of the cave itself. It is worth noting that Herzog executes an amazingly amazing jump cut in this doc that rivals that of Kubrick’s bone sequence in 2001, and it’s a good thing I was in the auditorium by myself, because I let out an audible exclamation of satisfaction. The only way to see this film for the first time is to experience it fully, in 3D. Please please please don’t miss your chance.

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