Caves of Forgotten Dreams (2010) - Synopsis
Positively received at its Toronto Festival Premiere, Cave of Forgotten Dreams shows the dramatic results of Herzog’s exclusive access to the recently discovered Chauvet caves in the South of France, and their truly extraordinary cave paintings, dating back 32,000 years. Herzog’s use of 3D really brings these beautiful works of art and the breath-taking cathedral like cave with its towering stalagmites to life. Herzog uses his unique access to this treasure trove of Palaeolithic masterpieces to muse on the immensity and fragility of man’s progress.
Herzog combines his gifts as a conjurer of unforgettable images, explorer of forbidden landscapes and poetic philosopher to illuminate and celebrate the earliest recorded visions of humanity. The Chauvet Cave, which contains the earliest known cave paintings, was discovered in 1994 and is considered one of the most significant prehistoric art sites. Hundreds of cave paintings depict at least thirteen different species, including horses, cattle, lions, panthers, bears, rhinos and even hyenas. The artists used techniques not often seen in other cave art making the Chauvet Cave an important record of Palaeolithic life in all of its savage detail.
Fear of damage from exposure to light and even human breath has meant that only a tiny handful of researchers have witnessed the paintings in person. Herzog finally managed to get permission to shoot there, with access strictly limited to a few hours per day and to a two foot wide walkway, using specially designed 3D cameras and battery-powered lights that emit no heat.
With his long-time collaborator, Director of Photography Peter Zeitlinger, Herzog had to rebuild and design radical adaptations to the available 3D cameras, with specialized equipment shipped from both the United States and other parts of Europe. Overcoming other setbacks and complications, including a volcanic eruption, Herzog and his team endured several weeks of intense production in March and April 2010. This is third of his films produced by Erik Nelson and Creative Differences.
Werner Herzog has directed over 50 feature films, and has developed a strong reputation for his documentary feature work, including the OscarÔ-nominated Encounters at the End of the World, Grizzly Man, Burden of Dreams, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, and My Best Fiend. His feature films include Aguirre: the Wrath of God, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (Grand Jury Prize, Cannes, 1974), Nosferatu, Fitzcarraldo (Best Director, Cannes, 1982), Rescue Dawn, and, most recently, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.