Cave Of Forgotten Dreams

  • Year:2010
  • Rating:G
  • Director:Werner Herzog
  • Cast:Dominique Baffier, Jean Clottes, Werner Herzog
  • Release Date:September 22, 2011
  • Distributor:Rialto
  • Running time:90 minutes
  • Film Worth:$16.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Making superb use of the 3-D, and marked by Werner Herzog’s idiosyncratic sensibilities, this contains enough captivating moments to make it a must-see.

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Every film by the veteran German director Werner Herzog (Aguirre: The Wrath Of God, Grizzly Man, Encounters At The End Of The World) is quite different, yet they're all unmistakeably his. This one is a documentary about the cave art at Chauvet-Pont-D'Arc in Southern France. Only discovered in 1994 - and generally seen since only by archaeologists, palaeontologists and the like - these are quite simply the oldest known paintings in the world. They're 32,000-years-old, and yet are so pristine that they've been mistaken for recent forgeries. In a project of logistical brilliance, Herzog and his crew have recorded them on film, and in 3-D. This is, for once, no mere gimmick, but the ideal way of showing them in all their glory, and of reflecting the way that they play with the cave-wall surfaces which form their "canvasses."

Most of these figures are of animals, many now long-since extinct - mammoths, European lions, cave bears - while others never did exist, such as an ambiguous Minotaur figure. Astonishingly enough, some feature a kind of "proto-cinematic" illusion of movement: witness the eight-legged bison. These are extraordinary treasures, about which a procession of scientists and other experts give their personal perspective. Some of them, it must be said, come across as unintentionally funny or nerdy. And there is a point where the film threatens to become a rather dry and academic lecture.

Then, just when it seems that Herzog might be getting a bit linear and less idiosyncratic in his old age, the film takes a wild lurch to encompass something about mutant albino crocodiles and nuclear reactors. Somehow, in context, it's just about pertinent. So, believe it or not, is a brief film clip of Fred Astaire dancing to his own shadow. Cave Of Forgotten Dreams is only occasionally as spellbinding as it should be, but it would be a mistake to miss it.

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