Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

In 1994, a group of scientists discovered a cave in Southern France perfectly preserved for over 20,000 years and containing the earliest known human paintings. Knowing the cultural significance that the Chauvet Cave holds, the French government immediately cut-off all access to it, save a few archaeologists and paleontologists. Lucky for us, director Werner Herzog was given access to the caves. The result is a documentary full of awe inspiring moments.

Herzog's approach to documentaries is not the usual one, his narration contains eccentric comments. He is also prone to feature slightly off the wall people as spokespersons. And he does that here.

In the end we have a movie full of poetic moments, visually and in terms of narration. I especially loved the part in which a scientist emphasizes that "homo sapiens" is the wrong name for humans. He argues that we "became human", not when we were able to gain knowledge, but when we were able to create visual representations of things in our life.

The movie could have been shorter though. And the last five minutes with the alligator theory add a truly eccentric touch, so weird I wonder if it should have been edited out. But hell, this is a Herzog movie. And, in the end, one has to love those odd touches.

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