Saturday, June 25, 2011

5 reasons you'll want to see this cave art documentary

   Reason #1 - Werner Herzog directed it.  
      Werner Herzog directed Cave of Forgotten Dreams about ancient cave art found in France - the first real look at this artwork dating back over 30,000 years.

    That brilliant, delightfully eccentric, German filmmaker who directed many critically acclaimed films, including the documentary Grizzly Man (2005), about the tragic life and death of naive, confused, Timothy Treadwell, the grizzly bear activist/ eco warrior, now directs and narrates this ancient cave art film.
Herzog and Kinski on the set of Aguirre
      Herzog also wrote and directed artistic feature masterpieces such as Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982) starring the painfully crazy Klaus Kinski whom he met at age 13. Kinsky was an extraordinary actor, but had a ferocious temper and would stop all filming on the set to vent about some perceived injustice or incompetence, sometimes to the point behaving violently.  On the set of Fitzcarraldo, the otherwise peaceful local Indians who served as extras, offered to murder the raving, maniacal Kinski. It was a thoughtful offer, but to the chagrin of the much abused crew, Herzog had to turn it down.

          Reason #2 Voodoo
      Herzog believes that locations carry an emotional and psychic electricity which he refers to as location voodoo. Despite his no-nonsense way of speaking, he does seem to be under a conjurer's spell in the trailer for the Cave of Forgotten Dreams

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    Enough on Herzog for the time being, although we will return to examine his genius at another time, I'm sure. For now, let's go to reason #3.
      #3 You cannot visit the cave
      The Chauvet cave is off limits to tourists and art lovers because the French government has decided that art tourism could introduce potential degradation to the 30,000 year old paintings. The French government has a nice website about the cave
    Those are your choices for now: see the film, visit the website or miss these  extraordinary paintings of lions, bears, owls and even rhinos!  
    According to Jonathon Jones, who writes about art for the Guardian and Jonathon Jones on Art, (read this blog for smart no BS commentary) “entering a painted cave is a lot stranger than seeing photographs of cave art – it is a spatial experience, and the paintings haunt you not as disembodied images but as part of an eerie magical world of rock and darkness. This is one of the reasons Werner Herzog's film Cave of forgotten Dreams is worth catching in 3D while it's still showing in cinemas. Herzog's use of 3D is not just poetic in itself but also a genuinely unique opportunity to explore inside the Chauvet cave."   Mr. Jones just gave away the next reason to view the film.
3D glasses by Samsung and Real
     Reason # 4 - It's in 3D  
      This is going to sell you or it's not. Simple as that. 
    Some love 3D, others complain about it. There is evidence that it is more tiring to the eyes and some viewers experience headaches after seeing a 3D film. 3D cons: there are fewer theaters equipped for 3D projection. Ticket prices are higher. You have to wear those dorky glasses. All good reasons some theater goers do not get overly excited about 3D. 
    Others will probably go see Cave of Forgotten Dreams just for the 3D novelty factor. My reason for seeing Avatar and yes, I liked it and did not get a headache. For some, 3D actually blurs the boundary between the film and reality. Hmm. Avatar, real? The way a funhouse is real, maybe. 
    But, Herzog is not a guy given to gimmicks and cheap thrills; though he is fascinated by surreal obsessions, other-worldliness and crossing that jagged divide between sanity and insanity without ever flinching.
      Reason # 5 - Roger Ebert likes it.
      The guy knows film and has a Pulitzer prize for criticism among his accolades (first film critic to receive a Pulitzer.) Find yourself a critic whom you respect and read them regularly. For me, it's Ebert. He works and writes like a man with minutes to live, and despite his horrible cancer, I pray that he will be with us for many years. And he regularly reviews documentaries. In case you missed his blog about the film...

    "Herzog says that in general, he dislikes 3-D. But he believes there are occasions when 3-D is appropriate, and this film is one of them. I saw it with bright, well-focused digital projection. Apart from a one-shot joke at the very end, he never allows his images to violate the theater space; he uses 3-D as a way for us to enter the film's space, instead of a way for it to enter ours. He was correct to realize how useful it would be in photographing these walls. To the degree that it's possible for us to walk behind Herzog into that cave, we do so." 
     Bonus Reason -Good Tomatometer ratings-96% approval (all approved critics) and 100% approval from top critics!! rotten tomatoes
      5+ good reasons to see the latest Herzog documentary film. If you have another, please comment. If you saw it and have criticisms to offer, please do.         
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