Werner Herzog is a wizard at conjuring unforgettable visions, from the ship dragged over the mountain in Fitzcarraldo to the Antarctic landscape in Encounters at the End of the World.
Now he brings us the earliest known visions of mankind: the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc cave art of southern France. Premiering at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, and receiving rave reviews worldwide, Cave of Forgotten Dreams brings these remarkable paintings to vivid life.
The Chauvet cave was sealed shut by a landslide for 20,000 years until it was found accidentally in 1994 by local cavers Christian Hillaire, Eliette Brunel-Deschamps and Jean-Marie Chauvet after whom the cave was named.
Since its discovery, access has been extremely restricted. This invaluable historic site had been open only to a select group of scientists until legendary director Herzog obtained extraordinary permission to film these ancient artworks.
With limited time, a skeleton crew and an improvised lighting system, Herzog reveals to us a breathtaking subterranean world and leads us to the 32,000-year-old artworks (the world’s oldest cave paintings).
In that deeply moving moment of encounter, we come face to face with pristine and astonishingly realistic drawings of horses, cattle and lions, which for the briefest second come alive in the torchlight.
In true Herzogian fashion, his hypnotically engaging narration weaves in wider metaphysical contemplations as we learn more about the Paleolithic art and its creators. Through his understated and gently humorous voiceover, we are invited to reflect on our primal desire to communicate and represent the world around us, evolution and our place within it, and ultimately what it means to be human.
This is a quiet and captivating documentary that not only raises questions about history and art, but the nature of creation and the eternal struggle of mankind to understand. Herzog has scored another remarkable success with this film, using 3D to accentuate the massive, sculptural forms revealed to his camera.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3D will be shown this Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre in Courtenay at the Driftwood Mall.
3D glasses will be supplied by the theatre, but you are welcome to bring your own.
Tickets at $11 each are available at the CVAG gift shop in downtown Courtenay, Video’s N More in Comox, and if not sold out will also be available at the door (in the Rialto lobby, cash only, exact change appreciated).
For more information, call 250-338-6211 or visit www.comoxvalleyartgallery.com for a complete listing of films including film synopsis, reviews and trailers.
— Comox Valley Art Gallery