Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)
Written and Directed by Werner Herzog
Length: 1 hr 30min
Available on Netflix
Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a treasure. It is a beautiful, inspiring documentary that will make you wonder why you go to see movies like Kick-Ass 2 or Planes. I’ve made it pretty clear how much I love Werner Herzog, but whenever I see this film (and that’s a lot) I feel he’s stepped out of the screen and engaged me on a personal level. The questions he asks and the stories he tells never feel staged or restrained. Herzog wonders aloud. He asks the questions that interest him, and they open up new questions for the viewer. Better yet, you might have a response to the question, or at least a counter. Great films do that–allow you to have a conversation with them.
The film follows Herzog and his team to the Chauvet Caves in the south of France, where the oldest known paintings reside. The images are breathtaking, and the fact that they are so well-preserved is mind-blowing. Here you can see what some other human created 35,000 years ago. Just think about that for a second. Before the pyramids, before the Bronze Age, even before domesticated animals, some person was making art. And these are not scratches on the wall. Each painting is a careful study of nature. There is movement, color, depth. It is the greatest museum in the world.
If you can watch this with a friend, family member, girlfriend, boyfriend, stranger, anybody–I suggest you do so. You’ll find yourself pausing to discuss, reflect, and challenge each other. It is a film that reaches beyond the screen.
I’ll leave you with a quote, simply because I love it and I think it will give you a small taste for what you’re in for:
“In a forbidden recess of the cave, there is the footprint of an 8-year-old boy next to a wolf’s. Did a hungry boy stalk the wolf? Or did they walk together as friends? We’ll never know.”