USA, 2010, 95 min
The surprise resurgence of 3-D has prompted everything from blanket claims that it’s the future of cinema to dismissals that it will again exhaust public patience through indiscriminate application to inappropriate films. But this process too often associated with routine genre films and cheesy FX can be surprisingly apt for some auteurs. Who better to adopt the form than Werner Herzog, our veteran guide to landscapes and mindscapes dislocative yet immersive? Eternally attracted to the spectacular, mystic and strange, he’s forever plunging head-first into exotica his bemused point-of-view renders gently inviting. There’s scarcely a Herzog feature—from Even Dwarves Started Small (1970) to recent Antarctica documentary Encounters at the End of the World—whose outré content, personalities and imagery wouldn’t make perfect sense in the stereoscopic form. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is about southern France’s Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc caverns, discovered in 1994. An Ice Age landslide had hidden (and preserved) prehistoric art dating back as far as 32,000 years ago, the oldest such expressions known today. Herzog was given exclusive access to this publicly sealed-off site of human prehistory. Its spectacular wall drawings from a near-unimaginable distant past are no less photogenic than the deep-focus vistas of limestone-stalagmite caverns à la Carlsbad. As ever, Herzog proves a wry, philosophically inclined, idiosyncratically personal guide to the extraordinary. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is like no 3-D movie you’ve seen: It thrusts out not to show off but to ponder more deeply the “humanness” of human life over millennia.
This is a World Cinema Spotlight film.