Cave of Forgotten Dreams is Herzog’s new 3D documentary about the Chauvet caves in Southern France. Over 32000 years old cavepaintings, the oldest in the world by thousands of years. Herzog paints the picture of old humanity, the Cro-Magnon and their ‘forgotten dreams’.
Known for his ecclectic, allegorical, new wave Germanity Werner Herzog usually travels to exotic locations to tell his passionate stories. For me his best work is Grizzly Man, a story of a man who belonged with the bears. His method of storytelling is quite controversial in a way, a lot of people find him to be lacking, other embrase the verging on obsessive approach that he has. I like to sit in the middleground, where my mood and the circumstance of watching his stuff plays a big difference on how I approach and accept his work. This is his first venture into 3D, trying to find out whether this new media will work with his type of filmmaking and storytelling. For me, this the only film that I’ve seen in 3D that something actually was added to the film by the techinque; nothing was compromised, but rather explored in more detail and depth. The contours of the caves, the magnitude of the scenery and the albino alligators at the end, were shown in a different light than they would’ve been otherwise.
TBH, the audience reaction to his newest explaration at the Glasgow Film Festival was mixed. I really enjoyed the 3D, but not everyone thought it gave to the film. Herzog is the kind of guy that has big ideas and speaks in big terms and paints the sky, and for many this was a bit chuckle-worthy; I get that if you’re not in the mood for that kind of depiction of ancient life, their mythology and philosophy, it could all seem a bit silly. A very relaxing film Cave of Forgotten Dreams was, it put me in a translike state on many occassions, the silence, darkness and music of a world gone by covered with a heartbeat track really does that for you. The eccentric characters in the film, with strong French accents were apparently too much for a lot of people’s laughcenter to handle, but I mainly found them to be interesting, albeit quirky and stereotypical characters, and thought that Herzog took a nice turn trying to implement the minds of not only those who painted the caves, but those who interpreted them throughout the millenia, including the present day group of scientist working every inch of the cave.
The ending gave a great moral statement of the handywork of modern humans on our planet’s imprint; only a few miles from these magnificient pre-historic caves lies the biggest nuclear powerplant in France. Cooled with water, the surroundings have become a tropic forest tainted with radioactivity, creating mutated animals (albino alligators); Herzog’s fear was that the delicate eco-balance of the area would shift due to this unnatural human creation and destroy the culture of our ancestors that lived in respect and harmony with nature. This could be very preachy, but seeing two albino alligators dancing with eachother, thriving in a land they were not meant to live in was thoughtprovoking and visually absolutely beautiful. That is was Herzog at it’s best is; visually enchanting and pushing on your nerves.
You will like Cave of Forgotten Dreams if…
– you’re highly visual.
– you don’t fall asleep easily.
– Herzog doesn’t come across to you as a Central-European, highbrow ponce.
7 / 10