Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)

Directed By Werner Herzog 


I went to this last night by myself. I was going to Norwegian Wood at 8:30 and this started at 6:30 and finished at 8:15. I thought 'that's perfect' and it was in 3D too so was my only chance. I got there pretty early and talked to Martin and Lucan who I used to work with at the other cinema. I was the first person in the theatre and I read my book, So You Know It's Me by Brian Oliu by the light of my cellphone.

It's a documentary about the Chauvet Caves in the South of France where paintings, bones and other artifacts were discovered. Some of the cave paintings dated back 32000 years!!!!!!!! They are the oldest recorded. Also they displayed a lot of skill too. I'm not going to really get into my opinions on documentary films but basically I think it's a term used to allude to 'truth' and 'reality' however those things I don't think exist in film, only representations exist. I dunno. Documentary films are documentary films because the director/distributor chooses them to be called that.

I don't really like 3D films because they hurt my eyes and wearing double glasses hurts my face. This was really annoying in 3D. It seemed redundant. I thought that the shots in the cave were too dark and the interviews and shots outside were nauseating. I thought that maybe though this was a joke on Herzog's part or some kind of thematic artistic decision. I mean, that I've found his other films to be very reflexive (reflexivity seems to be the thing I can't steer away from at the moment so everything seems to be reflexive for me. sorry.) and this was exactly the same. 3D is used to 'heighten the cinematic experience'/'enhance immersion' or something when in fact (ironically) it does the opposite. Basically the 3D directs attention to the film's construction and artifice.

HOWEVER I feel like Herzog is pretty 'on the ball' when it comes to stuff like this and so maybe he wants to sort of align his film with it's content which is primarily discussing the construction of the artworks and their backgrounds. That's a pretty funny/clever thing if it is. 

Some of the paintings were new ones drawn over the old but the old ones were still visible. By new ones I mean they were 5000 years after the old ones but still like 27000 years ago. There were bear skulls and other bones from such and such an animal. Like bisons. There was an alter-like stone with a skull placed in the middle of it. There were sculptures too. I really liked those. The art was really beautiful. The artists had used the shape of the cave walls to create movement in their works I learnt. I thought that was cool. 

Mainly the film was about, I think, humanity and our relationship to art and nature. When I watched Grizzly Man (also by Herzog) I thought that was ultimately about humanity as well, predominantly about the human preoccupation with mortality. I thought though, given the content of that film it created an implicit, intersubjective obsession with mortality. This film is different in that it explicitly does that. I guess that's another way in which it is reflexive. Or something.

Other cool things:
  • Shots of the paintings while music plays nondiegetically and someone plays with the lighting casting shadows on the cave walls so it's like the paintings dance with the light.
  • The interviews - mainly the ex circus performer with a pony tail and cool scarf.
  • The man dressed up in reindeer skin
  • Werner Herzog's voice over.

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