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Cave of Forgotten Dreams (3D) - Review

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

WERNER Herzog’s first 3D movie is a typically insightful documentary that combines the flamboyant director’s trademark style with another look into a virtually unseen corner of our planet, while examining the implications for humanity.

The Cave of Forgotten Dreams of the title refers to the Chauvet Cave in the south of France, a crystal cathedral of stalactites and stalagmites where cave drawings dating back some 35,000 years have been discovered in near pristine condition.

They represent the earliest recorded visions of humanity and are explored in depth by Herzog, who was allowed unique access to them for four hours per day, for six days, in 2010.

His decision to film in 3D affords the viewer a unique perspective of the drawings, bringing out the charcoal lines of each drawing without feeling gimmicky.

But it also helps to bring the cave itself to life, through every nook and untouched cranny, including the innumerable skeletal remains and footprints of the cave bears and other creatures that once dwelled within.

Herzog also uses the access to ponder the cave’s implications for humanity and interviews many scientific and archaeological experts on the implications of the findings, as well as their beliefs in order to come to his own, somewhat provocative conclusion that we can never really hope to know what the images meant, while still pondering the cultural significance they possess.

In doing so, and by his own admission, Herzog introduces some ‘bonkers’ elements, including a post-script that introduces us to nearby albino crocodiles, whose own perspective of the cave (should they ever reach them) provides the director with further philosophical musings.

No matter what you might think of Herzog’s conclusions, though, there’s no denying the absorbing nature of his film, or the unique insight into a remote region of the planet, which – like Encounters At The End of The World – takes viewers somewhere beyond normal reach.

It’s an insight made all the more remarkable given the constraints of his environment – and one that enables you to indulge the film’s generous running time given the filmmaker’s wondrous ability to almost always keep things fresh, witty and intellectually stimulating.

Certificate: U
Running time: 90mins
UK Release Date: March 25, 2011