Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Rated: No rating 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: April 29, 2011 Released by: IFC Films

With his deadpan, idiosyncratic voice-over, unique documentarian Werner Herzog continues to marvelously shape his obsessions of life through prehistorical times with the illuminating (3D-formatted) "Cave of Forgotten Dreams."
Continuing after the successful "Encounters at the End of the World" his insatiable curiosity and tenacity leads to applying the popular format (seen in so many Hollywood endeavors like "Sanctum") to ancient rock walls. Here, he provides an unusually pictorial glimpse into France's little-seen Chauvet Cave which hasn't been explored much since the mid-1990s when researchers found many pristine drawings inside its caverns dating back over 30,000 years. That was during a time when Neanderthals along with Homo Sapiens shared this part of the world  with mammoths, ice-age lions and cave bears. The vast interior is crystal-encrusted with some of the petrified remains of its mammal inhabitants.
The visionary director, who also writes and produces, goes about with his esteemed crew (not allowed to handle anything) in his own inimitable way to bring grandeur to a frozen flash of a moment of time." The scope of its contents once sealed off by a rock face, but now through high-definition imagery, the formations and sloping, tight passageways are shown to be well-preserved.
Technology offers quite an imaginative setting and clarity of light sources on moving or blank screen, tracing some of the world's earliest artwork. Through chats with archeologists or excursions to see influence of music and paintings a vivid connections is felt on a dramatic level without becoming bogged down.
The ability to navigate through an unfamiliar landscape with the stalactites and stalagmites offers something intimate and uncompromising with a "proto-camera" as overlapping bison appear on a frame. "How would a radioactive alligator think of us?", becomes part of an askew, surreal thought process of an often awe-inspiring rendering, a wondrous recording of a cradle of "humanness."

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