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Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Genders: History, Documentary

Director: Werner Herzog

Writer: Werner Herzog

Actors: Werner Herzog, Jean Clottes, Julien Monney, Jean-Michel Geneste

Year: 2011
Run time: 1h 30min
IMDB score: 7.3
Updated: 2 years ago

Movie infomation

Movie name: Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Genders: History, Documentary

Imdb Score: 7.3

Runtime: 1h 30min

Released: 25 Mar 2011

Director: Werner Herzog

Writer: Werner Herzog

Actors: Werner Herzog, Jean Clottes, Julien Monney, Jean-Michel Geneste

Box Office: $5.2M

Company: IFC Films

OfficialWebsite

Imdb Link

Cave of Forgotten Dreams Available Subtitles

Spanish subtitles Cave of Forgotten Dreams2 years ago
Serbian subtitles Cave of Forgotten Dreams3 years ago
Serbian subtitles Cave of Forgotten Dreams3 years ago
English subtitles Cave of Forgotten Dreams4 years ago
Greek subtitles Cave of Forgotten Dreams4 years ago
Arabic subtitles Cave of Forgotten Dreams4 years ago
Brazilian Portuguese subtitles Cave of Forgotten Dreams4 years ago
Portuguese subtitles Cave of Forgotten Dreams4 years ago
Danish subtitles Cave of Forgotten Dreams4 years ago
Serbian subtitles Cave of Forgotten Dreams4 years ago

Trailer


Review

Science With Grandpa

3/10 I went to see this movie over the weekend, and it was really one of the most amazing, and bizarre things I've ever seen. Werner Herzog takes a tiny camera crew into the famous Chauvet caves in France, giving us a glimpse of the amazingly preserved cave paintings I've only seen in text books up 'til now. Audiences get to view, en masse, a very famous location that they will almost certainly never be able to see in person because of the tight restrictions put in place by the French government to protect its pristine condition. And, better yet, if you see it in the theater like I did, you can see it in 3-D. This sounds like a really cheesy gimmick, but I assure you that the effect really enhances the experience, allowing us to really appreciate how the painters incorporated the natural curves of the wall into their drawings.

All this is pretty cool. But, then we have to endure Werner Herzog's own, particularly zany presentation of the material. He's got a pretty big reputation as a director, but I get the feeling he's getting a bit more eccentric as he ages. First of all, the film is about fifty percent too long. Everyone in the audience was squirming in their seats at about the sixty-minute mark. I understand that one's film needs to be a certain length in order for it to be taken seriously as a feature film, and Herzog achieves this length in one of the most amusing and tedious ways possible. There's only so much footage you can show of the actual cave and the art inside before the footage starts to become a bit redundant. So Herzog calls in a fleet of various "experts" to weigh in, and comment on various aspects of the cave. He's tracked down an assortment of the most delightfully odd, local crackpots. There's an "experimental" archaeologist, who gets into the sciency mood by dressing up in anachronistic and geographically inaccurate fur pelts. There's the master perfumer/spelologer, who looks for new caves by sniffing cracks in the ground for that "cavey" smell. The vintner/anthropologist who enjoys speculating on Paleolithic behavior and mythology, and favors historical reenactments. And, all these experts are pretty visibly pleased with themselves, grinning into the camera after giving us little demonstrations of their "science." It's all pretty endearing. And, these characters are all so very French.

The images of the cave are all pretty amazing. We really get to appreciate how perfectly the artwork has been preserved with the cave being sealed off for so many thousands of years. We can almost ignore all the strange "authorities" Herzog has marching through the film at such regular intervals. But, the tone of the movie was finally set in my mind by Herzog's wonderfully insane postscript. It's a meditation on humanity and culture, nuclear power and albino alligators. The moral conclusions he draws are pretty questionable, and the science is pure quackery. All you can really do is sit there with that wide-eyed stare, wondering if this guy is really serious, or if he's playing some big joke. Either would kind of be wonderful, but of course, for very different reasons.

4 years ago

Mesmerising, beautiful and compelling

9/10 This is the first Herzog feature I've seen on the big screen and I had read a few reviews on here before going. It's worth noting that I went to the Greenwich Picturehouse cinema in London. The screen, seating, sound and facilities were first class. I'd urge you to see this somewhere with top quality projection and sound.

This is a film about some French caves that contain paintings and markings made up to 32,000 years ago. Herzog documents the difficulties in viewing these astonishing sights and the further problems in filming them. As he seems to be able to do in any situation, Werner finds the most interesting, possibly obsessed and eccentric people to help illustrate the remarkable nature of this cave network.

The film is in 3D. A special 3D camera was made due to the constricted nature of the caves and the early part of the film was shot on a non-professional camera. A few reviews have complained of noise from low light dancing in 3D before their eyes. I saw none of this at all - in fact the 3D was really well handled and didn't detract from the subject matter at all. The undulation in the rocks are part of the paintings - the people that painted them used the contours as the shape of the things they drew. All that said, I don't know how well the 3D will translate to the small screen.

The sound is entrancing. The score is haunting and majestic, much like the French scenery we see and swoop over. A few people have complained of the heartbeat noise that is heard over the "silence" that we're told to experience but I felt it worked well, even on the second occurrence.

There are some odd moments, keeping to Herzog's style, including a crocodile-infested biosphere on the Rhone which Herzog uses to describe the human impact on the environment in the area around the caves. A few of the cave-investigating scientists are odd too, but I imagine the Bavarian director's questions often create an impression of abnormality in the sanest of subjects. Some of the interviews reminded me of The White Diamond or the friends of Tim Treadwell in Grizzly Man.

I'm delighted to have seen a Herzog film on the big screen and felt that this was the equal of "Encounters" or "Grizzly Man". It doesn't have the edgy feel of La Soufriere but that's to its credit. Go see it if you can but make sure it's at the best screen you can.

4 years ago

The subject matter was much more interesting than the documentary

6/10 Having only seen "Aguirre: Wrath of God", my Herzog experience was rather limited. I was excited to see this film because of it's fascinating subject material and because I had enjoyed my previous Herzog experience so much.

Now to the movie: The cave is incredible. They remark how fresh all of the art looks, and it's preservation and immediacy is truly astounding to reflect on over the course of the film. The film notes that certain pictures inches apart could have been drawn 5000 years apart. It really blows apart your comprehension of human history and time.

The narrative around the cave, however, ended up being an aimless collection of some facts, lots of speculation, and airy fluff about the "human spirit" that couldn't quite get to the core of what it wanted to say. You leave feeling like you've learned almost nothing about the cave or its people in the end. Twenty minutes of haunting, slow-panning shots of cave artwork would have had the exact same effect. No hyperbole intended.

4 years ago

Typically Herzog, typically brilliant

10/10 As much as I love Herzog's feature films, it's in his documentaries that I feel he really excels and this one is no exception. Regardless of being faced with extremely restricted access to the Chauvet caves, the subject matter and Herzog's unique angle on story telling make this one of the most compelling documentaries I've ever seen. His documentaries always have a way of moving me, be it in the passion and determination in the people he studies like Dr Graham Dorrington and Timothy Treadwell or in the sense of awe inspired by the environments he focuses on like in Encounters at The End of The World and this one was no different, right from the start I was overcome with the beauty of the caves and the drawings on the walls.

The context and hypotheses given by the interviewees only helps to deepen the sense of wonder as each section of the cave is discussed in turn by everyone from the chief scientist to art historians, to a master perfumer, and in typical Herzog fashion, many of them are quite eccentric and add some humorous touches along the way. Throughout the film, these specialists, along with Herzog's narration really set your mind racing and I went to bed last night still thinking about the cave's mysteries.

The sign of a good film is never wanting it to end and during his last visit to the cave, the film fades to black a number of times, each time left me praying that we were going to be allowed to see just a bit more. Films like this help to open your eyes and remind you that outside the boring drudgery of our 9-5 existence, there is a whole world of beauty and mystery for us to explore and by leaving us with the allegorical example of crocodiles living in a nearby artificial tropical habitat, Herzog leaves you asking questions about the way we lead our modern life that will last long after you've left the cinema.

4 years ago

See it in 2D.

7/10 I've had really high hopes for 3D since Avatar impressed me last year but have only ever been disappointed since. All this retro fitting, remakes and flickering action sequences has really started to bug me. So, when a few months back I heard Herzog was working on a 3D documentary film, I couldn't help but grin. Finally, I thought, a 3D film that isn't going to be a bloated blockbuster. This films subject The Chauvet Cave in southern France was only discovered in 1994. It contains perhaps the most extraordinary array of cave paintings dated from between 23,000 to 30,000 years ago as well as extraordinary calcite formations, stalagmites/stalactites and ancient bones of creatures long migrated from the continent. The cave was apparently sealed by a landslide many millennia ago which has preserved everything perfectly. It's really something special to see and the sense of great privilege is conveyed by Werner early on in his very proud introduction. He is the only filmmaker to ever have been allowed access to the cave and throughout I couldn't help picturing everyone at the BBC and Discovery Channel shrugging jealously. The picture starts with some really beautiful shots of the French vinyards and mountains near the cave. It's presentation is what we've come to expect and it's instantly engaging. Long roving shots from a remote flying camera, hand-held POV's up mountain paths. The problems only start when we get inside the cave. Werner explains that the equipment that they could take in has to be very limited and they use non-professional camera gear. This isn't necessarily the problem though, we can take it with a pinch of salt. The real problem is in the 3D. First of all there is little light in the cave and so the gain is pushed into the camera signal and there's a lot of digital noise, especially in the dark areas, of which there are a lot. Now, noise/grain is always forgivable, until it starts dancing around in 3D, then it gives you a terrible headache. A lot of the shots are lit solely by a moving torch light and the constant re-focusing of your eyes only strains them further. However. the cave is quite amazing and we get to see it in detail. Later in the film some much better lit 3d shots are shown that really should have been used throughout. Footage of the cave is interspersed with interviews with various characters. The decision to use a rather generic voice over in place of subtitles for these interviews was certainly a small misstep and dilutes it a touch, but the film is not without it's moments. There are a couple of hilarious exchanges where Werner has typically cut someone off too early or left them hanging when they have finished. I do get the sense that he has become self aware and when chuckles are raised as Werner describes a cave painting as "Proto-cinema" I detected at least a hint of self parody, which I don't mind at all. The film winds up with the most spectacularly detailed shots of all, they do linger on a bit too long and I think the back half of the film would benefit from a cut of about 10 minutes. Having said all this, despite the technical distractions, the film is a semi-triumph in the way Encounters at the end of the world was. Some really great personal touches and a fascinating subject, but for god's sake see it in glorious 2D. 7/10

4 years ago