Musings of a Designer on Jewelry, Crochet, Crochet Patterns, Knitting, Running a Crafty Business, Movie Costumes, Books, Art, Design, Steampunk & the Geek Girl Life

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Geek Girl: Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Time for a geek girl moment :) I just heard about, "The Cave of Forgotten Dreams", a 3D documentary film by Werner Herzog about the Chauvet Cave in southern France.

What's inside the cave? Hundreds of animal paintings, most from about 30,000 years ago, depicting at least 13 different species, including some rarely or never found in other ice age paintings. There are not just the familiar animals of the hunt that predominate in Paleolithic cave art, like horses, cattle, reindeer, etc., but also predatory animals like lions, panthers, bears, owls, and hyenas. The soft, clay-like floor of the cave has even retained the paw prints of cave bears! The cave is believed to have been untouched for approx. the past 25,000 years until its re-discovery in 1994. The cave is carefully preserved and the general public is not allowed to enter.

Why is this so cool? Paleolithic artists incorporated the subtle bulges and contours of the wall into their art which means the experience of their hybrid sculptural/pictorial art simply cannot be replicated in a 2D photographic reproduction. Also, the sounds and other non-visual stimuli present in the cave environment would have imparted an influence. This film is in 3D and will give a sensory experience much closer to what Paleolithic artists intended.

One caveat. I've seen a trailer for this and it seems that all the lighting used inside the cave is bright white. In keeping with generating an authentic viewing of the art as a Paleolithic experience, it really should have been more torch-like in my opinion. Flickering warm torchlight gives a vastly different visual experience than modern florescent floodlights. But still, it looks like a film not to be missed!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


a big - no a huge - thank you for your post about this film. Although Werner Herzog is very famous, I've never heard about this documentary. I think it hasn't been released in Germany.
Some months ago I started to become very interested in cave paintings as I have found a place in my apartment where a fake cave painting would look perfect. And so my search for inspiration changed into admire.

I think the reason why the light is so white is that the rules for filming in caves like these are very strict. So there is no chance that you're allowed to bring torches into the cave. The conservation of the paintings is very difficult and so the researchers and archeologists don't want to risk the paintings. Just think of the damage done by the breath and sweat of visitors to the paintings in the pyramids and temples of Egypt or the caves of Lascaux and Altamira.

Fun fact (better said not so fun fact) about prehistoric caves: There the story about boy scouts destroying cave paitings because they were thinking they were cleaning modern graffiti...
I just had to look up the story: the name of the cave is Mayrières supérieure.

Well, have you had the chance to watch the movie? How was it?

Thanks again..