REVIEW: Cave of Forgotten Dreams

7 02 2015

In his documentary “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” Werner Herzog explores a cave in southern France with some of the oldest known examples of human painting.  Naturally, he tries to invoke a sense of majesty, and he often amplifies the impact of the prehistoric drawings with a wondrous classical score.  A part of me wonders if he and Terrence Malick swapped contacts on a music supervisor since the film sounds quite a bit like “The Tree of Life.”

All jokes aside, Herzog makes some excellent points about art history, development, and evolution by delving deeply into these murals.  These early cave dwellers showed a remarkable awareness of contrast and contour.  (Gazing at them reminded me of my own experience standing in front of the sprawling “La Guernica” by Pablo Picasso, which hangs in Madrid’s Reína Sofia.)  Herzog even argues that their depiction of legs with movement represents humanity’s first attempt at cinema.  After all, they are called motion pictures.

Perhaps some of the grandeur and spectacle was lost on me since I watched the film on my couch at home, not in Herzog’s preferred 3D.  But I felt the film, fascinating as it was, could have been sped up at times.  If “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” ran under an hour, then it could be easily consumed by a cultural anthropology course (a prime target audience) in one classic period.  B2halfstars

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