Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams

albino alligator whose eyes in the movie are glowing red

Hands down, the hardest film to get a pass for: Werner Herzog’s the Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3D, his exclusive access to the coveted and private Chauvet Cave in southern France that houses the oldest known drawings of humankind, created more than 30,000 year ago!

The cave itself has been only recently discovered (1994) and not only is it not open to the public, the scientists also have very limited access to it.

The few esteemed visitors must wear protective suits and shoes, as the cave is filled with near-toxic levels of radon and carbon dioxide, so nobody can stay in the cave for more than a few hours at a time.

And overexposure, even to human breath, could damage the priceless drawings.

So for the film crew to be able to descend with 3D filming equipment is marvellous, as they opened up this view of another world to us.

The cameras track a small crew through the cave, followed by a background diction about the drawings and interviews by scientists and archeologists.

‘Beyond the walls, Herzog uses 3D to render the cave’s stalagmites like a crystal cathedral and to capture stunning aerial shots of the nearby Pont-d’Arc natural bridge. His probing questions for the cave specialists also plunge deep; for instance: “What constitutes humanness?’

Known for his amazing visuals, the film’s announcement on the Festival circuit drew in all his Fitzcarraldo and Encounters at the End of the World fans, along with the buzz it generated over being one of the only 3D projection, as well as ‘casting’ radioactive albino alligators!

As it is a very narrow specialty, whose target audience is somewhat limited to archeologists, scientists, and Herzog fans, I don’t see it getting wide distribution deals. Maybe in a museum, a Science Center or a special University projection – which would have to have 3D capacity. TIFF later in the year, as it is best suited for such a feature – technological, historic, and visual.

Official teaser-trailer:

Did you know!

– This is Herzog’s 60th film!

– He persuaded the French government, the regional government and a council of scientists to let him film there, in exchange for collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and non-commercial rights to the finished documentary to be shown in classrooms across France

– Chauvet is ‘captivating’ precisely because 20K years ago a landslide blocked its access and ‘hermetically sealed’ it, preserving everything inside but also sealing off entry to anyone wishing to explore

– The cave represents “the beginnings of the modern human soul,” depicted by the animal drawings as a sort of “proto-cinema,” in a venue that’s like an ancient movie theatre


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