This month’s film on Sunday 8th April is Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Canada, USA, France and Germany. 2011. Directed by Werner Herzog 90 min Cert U)
In this documentary, filmmaker Werner Herzog and a small crew are given a rare chance to film inside France’s Chauvet Cave, where the walls are covered with the world’s oldest surviving paintings. To preserve the art, people are allowed to enter the site for only two weeks a year. Examining the 32,000 year old drawings, Herzog discusses how the artwork represents humanity’s earliest dreams with scientists and art scholars conducting research at Chauvet.
Writing in the Guardian, Philip French says, “Herzog has had unprecedented access to the astonishing 30,000-year-old paintings that were discovered in 1994 in limestone cliffs beside the Ardèche river in southern France, in what is now called the Chauvet Cave. It is a fascinating film, with contributions from various scientists who have studied and worked on the paintings during the brief annual periods when they’re open for inspection. Herzog 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.
The figures, drawn over an amazing 5,000 years, often on top of each other, are breath-taking in their beauty, and seeing them in this film is as close as any of us is likely to get to them. A facsimile of the cave is to be built nearby, but however artfully constructed such a place can only convey an impression of the real thing.”