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Werner Herzog is a cinematic legend, but Cave of Forgotten Dreams won’t be.
This 2010 documentary, which he wrote, directed and produced, is about the Chauvet Cave in southern France, home to the earliest known cave paintings in the world.
Herzog asserts they are more than twice as old as any other known cave paintings. The film was mostly shot inside the cave with intermittent interviews with geologists and panoramic views of the surrounding French countryside.
The paintings themselves are stunning, with depth, movement, shading and graceful form one would not expect from Ice Age artists. Some of the panels span six metres in length, notably “The Horse Panel,” which is remarkable.
However, footage of the same images is repeated over and over, making it a watch-checkingly-long 90 minutes. The colour palette of the film is noticeably drab–greys, browns, taupes and black–and the soundscape is lulling.
In this particular screening, there were 2 people snoring loudly from the front row. The cave itself is a humbling discovery, and the film is educational, but watching it felt more like homework than inspiration.