Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Director Werner Herzog at a press conference i...Image via WikipediaI know this is not a movie review blog, but this is not really a movie review. I am on "vacation" in Chicago this week and one of the things I like to do on vacation is catch up on movies. German movie director Werner Herzog has shown up in this blog previously for his "Rogue Film School" and here in Chicago, I finally got around to seeing "Cave of Forgotten Dreams." There are so many reasons why this is an important film. The first of which is that it is a record of the oldest known artistic production of our species. The cave paintings are 35,000 years old, twice as old as the cave paintings in Lescaux. The cave is being protected by the French government because of what tourism has done to the paintings in Lescaux. The movie is filmed in 3-d. For myself, I think this is the first real use of 3-d since we have been making 3-d films. There are a couple of entertaining 3-d films out there, but this is the first time the technology has been used to completely situate one's experience of the film's subject matter. The 3-d technology is not just used as an effect or a gimmick; it is the core experience of the film from beginning to end. By using 3-d even in interviews with people in their offices or outdoors, it allows the viewers the chance to orient themselves to the medium when he is filming in the cave. I found the experience profoundly moving. The film has its eccentricities: philosophical hyperbole and a bizarre post-script, but this is a film by an artist, not National Geographic. And that is my next point: I always thought that NASA should send artists, musicians, and/or poets into space. Monkeys, test pilots, and chemists all seem to be unable to really communicate the significance or the meaning of their work. They do not seem to be interested in that at all anyway. In the past, art and science were a lot closer (I am thinking of Leonardo for instance). The French government made a brilliant decision by letting Werner Herzog have access to the cave.

Cave hyena (Crocuta crocuta spelaea) painting ...Image via Wikipedia
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