Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams"

Image credit: 

Werner Herzog's latest documentary is about the Chauvet Cave, which is remarkable primarily for its cave paintings -- dating from the ice age, the paintings are surprisingly detailed, and some show a sort of "painterly" quality. In some cases, this effect is achieved by etching and gouging the cave walls and working with natural contours on the cave walls, so the art interacts with available light (which presumably would have been torches or other fire).

You can't just show up at the Chauvet Cave and check it out. The cave is sealed and guarded, carefully preserved by the French government. But Herzog has made a documentary -- oh, by the way, in 3D -- about the cave. It has been making the festival circuit and has already been well-received. From Wikipedia:

The cave is carefully preserved and the general public is not allowed to enter. Herzog received special permission from the French minister of culture to film inside the cave. Having received permission, Herzog nonetheless had heavy restrictions while filming inside the cave. All people authorized to enter must wear special suits and shoes which have had no contact with the exterior. Because of near-toxic levels of radon and carbon dioxide, nobody can stay in the cave for more than a few hours at a time.

Herzog was allowed to have only three people with him in the cave: the cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger, a sound recorder, and an assistant. Herzog himself worked the lights. The crew was only allowed to use battery powered equipment which they could carry into the cave themselves, and used only lights which did not give off any excess heat. The 3-D cameras were custom-built for the production, and were often assembled inside the cave itself. Herzog was allowed six shooting days of four hours each inside the cave. The crew could not touch any part of the wall or floor of the cave, and were confined to a 2-foot-wide (0.61 m) walkway.

Now we have the trailer. Look at the art, and try to imagine that some of these designs were made 30,000 years ago. Thirty thousand years is a long time.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams from Nate Calloway on Vimeo.

(Via @brainpicker.)

More from mental_floss...

February 3, 2011 - 9:06am
submit to reddit