Cave of Forgotten Dreams
by George Wolf
Thursday, March 5th, as part of the “Essential 3D” series at the Wexner Center, film fans in Columbus get a great chance to see this again in 3D – truly a remarkable experience. Below is my review that first ran in 2011.
Seldom has a film transported an audience back in time as effectively as Cave of Forgotten Dreams.
The time is over 30,000 years ago, and the place is France’s historic Chauvet Cave, home of the earliest known recorded visions in human history.
The cave was discovered in 1994, and the French government has been impressively careful with its treatment. A small scientific team is granted access for two weeks twice a year – and then for only a few hours each day. Not only are the cave’s radon and carbon dioxide levels dangerous to humans, but too many human breaths can produce mold inside the cave’s pristine setting.
Last year, writer/director Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man) was granted permission to take a small production crew inside, and the result leaves you grasping at superlatives.
Breathtaking. Stupendous. Exhilarating. Awe-inspiring.
Herzog films in 3-D, reminding you the technique can be so much more than a gimmick to sell kid’s movies. You feel the depth of the cave, the breadth of its reach and the beautiful contours of its walls, adorned with the work of incredibly sophisticated artists. Herzog’s camera lingers as the art from tens of thousands of years ago speaks to you so loudly you may find yourself holding your breath.
When Herzog mixes the prehistoric findings with the futuristic testing methods of the science team, he creates a wonderful merging of past and future that raises questions not only about where humankind has been, but where it is going.
Hopefully, it will be going to see this film.