By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood April 19, 2011 at 5:30AM
Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Werner Herzog's 3-D exploration of the world's oldest paintings in the Chauvet Cave in southern France, is an enchanting ride. Rather than using 3-D as a device to escape into fantasy, Cave of Forgotten Dreams opens our eyes to a real and fragile history that makes us marvel at our own existence. Herzog invites us "to reflect on our primal desire to communicate and represent the world around us, evolution and our place within it, and ultimately what it means to be human."
The vet documentarian was granted unprecedented access to the caves, which are now brought to life for the rest of us. The film whispers rather than shouts, insisting that our imaginations be active participants in the experience. Check out the clip (plus new trailer and reviews) below, in which archaeologist Julien Monney talks about the effect that being in the cave had on him. Cave of Forgotten Dreams opens April 29 at ArcLight Hollywood.
Herzog followed up his last dive into the exotic, under the Antartica ice in Encounters at the end of the World, with another journey into an extraordinary subterranean place, which presented huge technological challenges. The Chauvet Cave's hundreds of 32,000-year-old realistic drawings of horses, cattle and lions– the world's oldest-- were discovered in 1994. Herzog's typically engaging, humorous, narration presents metaphysical concepts of communication and representation as he shares how this Paleolithic art was created.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams reviews:
- In Phillip French's review for The Guardian, he calls the film "Fascinating…Herzog, who creates his own problems with a greater readiness even than Hitchcock did, decided to make things that much more difficult for his three-man crew by shooting in 3D. However, this has paid off by contributing to the audience's spatial sense of the place and to the way the animals on the wall – bison, horses, deer, rhino – appear to be in motion."
- From Kirk Honeycutt's THR review: "These drawings, Herzog says, represent the dreams of men whose world and outlook is difficult to imagine. One archeologist says the drawers would have imagined spirits within the walls themselves and indeed in the trees and wind outside. He would live in a world of spirits. Herzog takes this to heart and then wonders what constitutes humanness…this represents one of the best uses ever of 3D."
- Salon's Andrew O'Hehir: "these images are breathtaking -- unlike anything you've seen before or will see again."