Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Werner Herzog is an enigmatic and masterful filmmaker who often bemoans the state of film and how movies are devoid of unique and interesting images. So in 1994 when two adventurers discovered a cave in the south of France containing cave drawings dating back 30,000 years, the oldest known to man, it was only natural that Herzog would make a documentary about the markings. The cave was shut off almost immediately by the government so as to preserve the drawings and only limited access has been granted to scientists and scholars to access. Filming has never taken place until now. With strict restrictions, Herzog and his very very limited crew document these beautiful and mysterious drawings which seem almost impossible to fathom. Incredible details are also revealed, such as how the paintings were revisited thousands of years later and more work was added to them. Narrating again, Herzog's unique voice and strange musings add mystery to the film and his odd choice of filming in 3D is surprisingly perfect for the curvy and protruding interiors of the cave. Herzog interviews weird types who have worked with the cave, such as a circus performer turned archaeologist whose reason for being in this film I could not discern. These interviews detract from the film and the real star is the actual painting, which I believe Herzog knows when he shows them in two extended silent sequences. Also there is an outrageous ending involving crocodiles in a nearby biodome which is amusing. Again, Werner Herzog has found a mystifying topic which he has added to in bringing it to the big screen.