Herzog film on Chauvet Caves


Bison from the End Chamber of Chauvet Cave – from Bradshaw Foundation

As most long time readers of my blog know, I am fascinated by ancient pictographs, petroglyphs and other art forms. They have been an inspiration in my own artmaking for over a decade.

So, I was thrilled yesterday to finally see Werner Herzog’s 3D documentary film Cave of Forgotten Dreams. It was as amazing and awe-inspiring as I had expected it to be from the many reviews I had read. I have previously seen gorgeous photos of the paintings in Chauvet Cave in books and on France’s Culture Commission’s online site, but seeing this film just blew me away. These early humans of so long ago were incredibly skilled artists.

The 3D glasses bothered me a little at first especially in scenes with a lot of movement, but it did not take long to adjust. They really did enhance the experience of the caves’ architecture and how the paintings of the various animals flowed with depth and movement along the curving walls. The discussions by Werner Herzog and the scientists were informative and enjoyable and made me wish I had been able to record some of them. If this film ever comes out as a DVD, I want it!

There are numerous great reviews of the film and articles about Chauvet to be found online. I suggest this interview of Herzog in Archaeology magazine as well as the pages of Bradshaw Foundation. I love these words about the film:

….glide through the cathedral-like cave, over cave formations and sloping passageways, across the beautiful 32,000 year old drawings. These scenes are interspersed by interviews with scientists musing on the cave’s mysterious beauty, the evolution of creativity and the nature of humanity. Operatic, gorgeously accomplished and truly unforgettable: this is an extraordinary glimpse at, perhaps, the dawn of art itself.

August 31, 2011 in Films, Rock Art & Archaeology by Marja-Leena