Cave of Forgotten Dreams

(2010)

Genres: Documentary, History

Review: Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Transcript for Review: Cave of Forgotten Dreams

IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY:
Well, moving on. CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS is a new documentary by Werner Herzog about  the Chauvet Cave in France, which is home to the earliest known artworks in the world. Its walls are covered with hundreds of paintings that are believed to be about 30,000 years old. 

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IGNATIY:
Herzog narrates the film himself in his trademark half whispered German accent.

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IGNATIY:
As usual he hones in on some strange characters. Including a circus performer turned scientist who’s captivated by the drawings.

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IGNATIY:
Herzog has said that this is the only film he'll make in 3D, and his choice of the format is no gimmick. CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS is all about the images. As we're reminded again and again in the film, the walls of the cave are not flat, and, when lit by torch light, they give the paintings an illusion of movement. Herzog uses the depth of the 3D image to recreate the illusion and that sense of wonder and mystery that the cave had for its painters. It's one of the finest uses of this new medium that I have seen. 

CHRISTY LEMIRE:
Yeah I am not a big fan of the 3D in general as you know, but it’s so useful here and so beautiful.  It makes everything so tactile.  The walls are curved and yet there’s also, there’s like scratches and torch marks on them…

IGNATIY:
Yeah the cave bear marks that they keep pointing out.

CHRISTY:
Yeah.  It’s like you can reach out and touch them because of the 3D and he’s never gimmicky with it, it’s never stuff being flung at you or whatever.  It’s very useful in immersing you in this and I love when he narrates his own stuff because he’s like a little kid who is so giddy about these discoveries and he wants to bring you along with him and show you all of the cool stuff he’s found.  And you get to hear him say things like protocinema.  It’s beautiful.

IGNATIY:
Yeah it is, and he gets a sense of wonder across so well so simply by showing these images in 3D and seeing how this perspective shifts.  You know just by moving the camera around or by at one point they’re just moving a light back and forth in front of like a picture of a horse.

CHRISTY:
Right, I like also the cast of characters you see here.  They determine that the same person did all of these paintings because there’s a little hand print…

IGNATIY:
Oh yeah, the pinky, the crooked pinky.

CHRISTY:
The finger is broken and that’s a cool little detail to discover like what a great mystery.  And then you have these people like the perfume expert…

IGNATIY:
Yeah

CHRISTY:
Who is sniffing around and trying to find like other caves that are hidden.

IGNATIY:
Well, he feels to me like, Herzog will occasionally insert fictional material into his films.  I mean he’ll sometimes hire actors…

CHRISTY:
Do you think this guy’s fake? The perfume guy is fake?

IGNATIY:
I think the perfume guy is just like…

CHRISTY:
Don’t tell me that.

IGNATIY:
It’s like “Bells From the Deep” where he has the people who are lying on the snow trying to see if they can you know hear the sunken city or whatever…

CHRISTY:
I want to believe that.  Know I want to believe perfume guy sniffing around the woods.

IGNATIY:
The perfume guy is simply too perfect.  It’s gotta be a Herzog invention.

CHRISTY:
And then the last thing at the end with the albino alligators.  I want to know more about them.  It’s brilliant.