Cave of Forgotten Dreams

2010

Action / Documentary / History

59
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 96%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 73%
IMDb Rating 7.4 10 13242

Synopsis


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October 26, 2011 at 02:03 AM

Director

Cast

Werner Herzog as Himself / Narrator
1080p.BLU
1.50 GB
1920*1080
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 30 min
P/S 6 / 31

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by julsmul 9 / 10

Cave of Forgotten Dreams is Pristine

Werner Herzog's 2010 documentary; Cave of Forgotten Dreams is my second favorite documentary of all I've seen so far, being beaten only by his 2007 documentary, Encounters At The End Of The World. Werner explores Chauvet Cave, a recently discovered cave in Southern France which contains cave paintings, bones, and footprints of men and animals from 32,000 years ago.

Tone is crucial to a film, and Werner does an outstanding job in capturing a very unique tone and maintaining it through the whole documentary. Although the film revolves around archaeology and other scientific studies, its tone brings an air of mysticism that leaves viewers feeling as if they are traveling through time and truly connecting with the many prehistoric painters of the featured mind- bending artwork. In my many viewings with others, this combination has never failed in holding the attention and interest of even those that dislike documentaries.

The music is superb and breathes life into the film's equally superb cinematography. Like the tone, it captivates viewers minds using soft choir, piano, and wind instruments and offers a deeper perspective of Werner's slow-pan shots over the cave art. Much of the film contains long, un-narrated segments of just this camera-work with the music, and while sounding boring, those segments are actually my favorite parts. Of the entire soundtrack, I can recommend "Rockshelter," "Child's Footprint Duo," and "Carbon Date" as my favorites.

The science presented in this documentary is also very interesting. Werner delves into the cave's history with passion, and every aspect, from carbon dating to a prehistoric man's crooked little finger, is thoroughly explored in his analysis. As per Werner's style, the scientists and experts featured in the film also present their inner opinions about the cave and what amazing dreams drive them to continue their work.

If there is gripe I've heard quite often about this film, it's usually the postscript. For many, the ending is confusing, opinionated, and a sudden, jarring change from the rest content. However, I feel that it is because Werner offers his opinions that his documentaries are so enthralling. Werner has a very unique perspective, and, for me, it always provides a new insight into the topic of discussion. The message can be understood with some thought and makes for a very decent concluding thought on the Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

Conclusively, Werner Herzog's documentary is an experience best lived with an open, curious mind. Werner does not make generic documentaries, and his style isn't for everyone; however, with the right perspective, I feel that Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a beautiful piece of art that deserves a deeper look from those who dislike it.

I'm giving it a 9/10. Otherwise, what would I rate Encounters At The End Of The World?

Reviewed by Roman Gronkowski 9 / 10

My thoughts

A film that should touch the human in everybody. Werner Herzog's documentary "Cave of Forgotten dreams" brings images to the world, that have not been seen for over 20,000 years. This masterpiece in film takes us to view the oldest known pictorial works of art in human history some dating back as far as 32,000 years old. The artwork mainly consists of Horses, Lions and Bison of the time. Situated in a France, the "Chauvet caves" where discovered in 1994, up until that time the caves had been sealed completely by a rock fall and its contents locked in time. Herzog guides us poetically through the cave introducing us to the artwork made by humans of the upper Paleolithic era, offering interpretations from himself and eccentric experts. They include an archaeologist, a master perfumer and an anthropologist. Each of them puts in their own ideas and element of madness, coerced out by Herzog's peculiar questions. Often Herzog goes off track in his interviews and asks questions that would not normally spring to mind. This approach to telling the story purifies the concepts Herzog is trying to put across, Ideas of "The beginning of the human soul" and emotions and dreams of the ancient humans. This only magnifies the amazing and quite stunning story of the cave. Throughout the film Herzog perpetually looks for the human in all of his Interviewee's in an attempt to connect them to the human's of the past. I find the greatest achievement of the film is the bridge built by Herzog to the humans of the cave; he somehow restores a link over such an abyss of time that is truly remarkable. His poetic soliloquies require no further comment, only amazement and acknowledgment of the ideas he plants in your brain that grow if you let them. After the film I was left completely stunned at this beautiful delve into an ancient world and somehow I felt a strange empathy towards the humans of the time. The camera work and look of the film is gorgeous although within the cave Herzog is limited in his equipment and allowed only a few LED lights. Yet he manages to play with the shadows and textures of the paintings with light, enriching the visuals and creating movement. He try's to mentally take us to the cave and imagine the artists standing there, admiring their work by the light of fire's, as their paintings flicker, shift and move like real animals. Time and time again throughout the film you are left in state of awe, this film goes above and beyond the requirements of documenting; it reaches the heights of being culturally significant to the human community. An original music score was written for the film, it has a haunting quality. It plays mostly over images of the artwork, complimenting the camera work as the camera moves right as the animals face left. The illusion of movement is created with the lights and the music is appropriately titled "Shadow". This sequence in the film is so deep and raw with emotion, the animals really do appear real, as if in packs and out hunting. Herzog then explores outside the cave, introducing us to a Paleolithic flute made from ivory. A rather enthusiastic and possibly mad "experimental" archaeologist plays "star spangled banner" with the limited notes on the flute. This is yet again Herzog building a relationship between us and these wonderful humans of the past. Is he perhaps implying that 30,000 years ago, a man may have played that tune out of the flute, unaware of what that song would go on to represent? Or did it perhaps mean something then? There are few negatives that can be drawn from the film, and also for Herzog. Perhaps his fabrication of the lives of the ancient humans may be of an annoyance to the less poetically inclined, who want for concrete facts and no creative speculation. I find his style and vision faultless, if facts are what you are after then there are textbooks with them. Herzog provides so much more, that the only negative that can be cast upon him, will simply be a dislike to his film making in general. I will conclude as Herzog did exploring the ideas of humanness. I found this a very touching point to end the film on. His interviewee talks about the ideas that man has to communicate his surroundings, from the animals to the landscapes and humans themselves, there seams to be this urge to paint it, draw it or film it. Suggesting that visuals serve as a far greater articulation of human spirit than forms of oral language. Herzog suggests that this cave was possibly the start of such a communication with the future. A thought I had after the film was, what if the Humans of the cave could view this film, and how would they react to the wonder and amazement to their work? Would Herzog's interviewee's hypotheses come true, that these humans where trying to communicate their world to the future? It is perhaps that, but the real beauty in Herzog's outstanding film is that it will stand as a testament for humans of this civilisation to the humans of the next, it will tell of our fascination with Art, History and our fellow man.

Reviewed by johnmkirby 3 / 10

Too long, too many tangents

I don't usually write reviews. In fact I don't think I've ever written one. My basic comments are similar to others I've seen here. The basic story of this cave art (assuming everything to be legitimate) is very interesting. But to most of us, this is probably a 5-10 minute story. The images are immediately stunning; but unless you are fascinated by the minutiae of artwork, it can't justify 60+ minutes. There are only so many times I can see the same horses, rhinos and lions etc. Then to boot, they tried to add some "filler" (e.g. interviews of people outside the cave), but the filler is very tangential and of borderline value. E.g. one guy who looks for caves by sniffing the air; with no suggestion that this actually works. And a former circus-worker theorizing about ancient art (based on a very loosely-relevant story about Australian art). And a guy explaining hunting with the atlatl (without using the term), with no real connection to the cave. I would have been interested in e.g. the actual finding of the cave itself (e.g. an interview of the persons who found it, or original accounts); or e.g. a scientific discussion of how we know that this is legitimate and not a hoax (aside from one very brief comment about some sort of growth over the art supposedly proving that it's real). Or heck, even of how they built that walkway in the cave without disturbing the surrounding floor. And there's not even any discussion of the absence of people (predominately) from the artwork. So it seems like there is other "filler" that might have worked (i.e. relevant and interesting filler). Nuff said I guess.

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