Cave of Forgotten Dreams is Werner Herzog’s 59th movie: He shot it in 3-D, in six days, under a series of almost impossible constraints. And yet it’s a totally remarkable work.
The cave in question is Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc, in the South of France, where a number of 32,000-year-old paintings exist in a state of near-perfect preservation. The constraints involved time (Herzog could shoot only four hours a day) and space (his four-man crew had to remain on a two-foot walkway and had to assemble their camera inside the cave itself). “We were shooting in three dimensions,” Herzog told the Los Angeles Times last year, “but we could only move in one dimension, since you couldn’t step around anyone without leaving the walkway.” You’d expect the film to be claustrophobic; instead, it’s endlessly expansive, in terms of space and time alike. (As usual, Herzog’s thickly accented narration is a wonder in and of itself.) Inspired by a New Yorker article (by Judith Thurman), it’s one of the year’s most delightful films, and one of the very few live-action 3-D movies that takes good advantage of the medium.
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