Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2011) -- B+

It should almost go without saying that Werner Herzog conjures up gorgeous, mesmerizing, and wholly transcendental images in his latest documentary, also in 3D, though that's more of a tangential perk than anything worth discussing. What truly brings vitality to the material are the interviews with numerous scientists and archeologists, all of whom have devoted significant amounts of time to studying the Chauvet caves of Southern France. Human idiosyncrasy (of the interviewees) parallels the incomprehensible drawings of cavemen, still preserved and astonishingly legible. Herzog posits the findings as lost or forgotten dreams, even going so far as to refer to their attempts of depicting movement as "proto-cinema." The archeologists muse over a time long since passed, becoming giddy and eloquent when narrativizing what's on the cave walls. They, like Herzog, view the past with equal parts nostalgia and introspection, often mimicking the actions of cavemen (such as throwing a spear to kill a horse) but are humorously unsuccessful. The past cannot be retained in whole - but it can be dreamt, mythologized, and made grandiose. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is an endlessly eloquent manifestation of this phenomenon.

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