Best Movies of All Time + [Werner Herzog]

CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS

CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS

G

"It is as if the modern human soul awakened here."
-- Werner Herzog

Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a 2011 documentary directed and narrated by Werner Herzog that literally explores the Chauvet Cave located in France. The cave is thought to house the oldest known human cave paintings, and as a result, it has essentially become a sealed-off tomb that is only explored once a year for a period of only a few weeks. Herzog and his production team were given special access to film inside the cave, both with and without the scientists studying inside. The final result is a film that shows spectacular beauty from inside the cave and that offers a slew of information regarding a series of hypotheses as to the creation of these drawings.

While I have always been familiar with the Herzog name, I'm not sure I've ever seen one of his films, much less one of his documentaries. When the term "Herzog documentary" ever came to mind, I would always immediately recall his 2005 venture, Grizzly Man. However, after learning that Cave of Forgotten Dreams had started to garner some critical success - it currently holds a 96% approval rating on Rottentomatoes.com - I figured I should give it a view as it was readily accessible.

What transpired was a bit of a mixed bag for me. While I was fascinated by the images being portrayed on-screen and the story of what may or may not have happened inside the cave, I was a little put-off by the film's overall tone. There was an aura of unrelenting authority and a bit of a pompous nature in Herzog's narration, and that alone kept me from being able to maintain any real interest in the film's "storyline." Even though the quality of information brought forth by the interviewees was relevant and interesting, I was always a little disappointed to hear Herzog start his narration once again. Rather than letting the experts convey the information, he often felt the need to offer his own insight; while this is normally fine, his insights either made little to no sense or simply reiterated what someone else had already said. It got to be a little bit annoying after a while, and it took me out of the film.

Despite my reservations about the film, however, there is still some beautiful cinematography to behold. Considering most people will never have the opportunity to enter this cave, this is our one chance to take a look inside and see what the origins of human existence, as well as the human soul, may have held. That in an of itself makes this an interesting film to watch, but I only caution that you beware the film's overall narration, which muddied it all a little too much for my liking.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: C
Thumbs Sideways