Combustible Celluloid
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With: Werner Herzog, Dominique Baffier, Jean Clottes, Jean-Michel Geneste, Carole Fritz, Gilles Tosello, Michel Philippe, Julien Monney, Nicholas Conard, Wulf Hein, Maria Malina, Maurice Maurin, Charles Fathy (voice)
Written by: Werner Herzog, based on an article by Judith Thurman
Directed by: Werner Herzog
MPAA Rating: G
Language: English, German, with English subtitles
Running Time: 90
Date: 09/10/2010

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011)

4 Stars (out of 4)

The Writing on the Wall

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Werner Herzog was the perfect person to ask to make this movie. Over the course of his career, he has continually demonstrated both a foolhardy bravery and an insatiable curiosity in his constant search for the elusive relationship between man and nature. This was the case in his early, classic films with Klaus Kinski (Aguirre, the Wrath of God, as well as in his more recent, acclaimed documentaries (Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World.

In 1994, climbers in Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc in Southern France discovered a cave filled with rich cave drawings. Experts quickly determined that the drawings dated back some 32,000 and were the oldest such drawings in the world today. The enormous importance of the find was immediately apparent and the cave was sealed off to everyone but experts. However, the acclaimed director Werner Herzog was given unprecedented access to film inside. Using 3D for the first time, Herzog's meticulous, curious eye lovingly records the drawings and also attempts to capture the myriad of thoughts and feelings they inspire.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams is unquestionably an important document, since the cave itself is of enormous historical importance, and since this film will be the only way most people will get to see inside of it. (And the drawings are hauntingly beautiful.) Yet the very limited structure of this story doesn't allow Herzog to explore as much as he might like to. However, when he does get to explore, such as learning about primitive weapons, speaking to a scientist about his former circus career, or interviewing a perfume maker about the smells of the cave, his personal vision shines through.

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