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Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)

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Werner Herzog gains exclusive access to film inside the Chauvet caves of Southern France and captures the oldest known pictorial creations of humanity.

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11 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Jean Clottes ...
Himself
Julien Monney ...
Himself
Jean-Michel Geneste ...
Himself
Michel Philippe ...
Himself
Gilles Tosello ...
Himself
Carole Fritz ...
Herself
Dominique Baffier ...
Herself
Valerie Feruglio ...
Herself
Nicholas Conard ...
Maria Malina ...
Herself
Wulf Hein ...
Himself
Maurice Maurin ...
Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Valerie Milenka Repnau ...
(voice)
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Storyline

In 1994, a group of scientists discovered a cave in Southern France perfectly preserved for over 20,000 years and containing the earliest known human paintings. Knowing the cultural significance that the Chauvet Cave holds, the French government immediately cut-off all access to it, save a few archaeologists and paleontologists. But documentary filmmaker, Werner Herzog, has been given limited access, and now we get to go inside examining beautiful artwork created by our ancient ancestors around 32,000 years ago. He asks questions to various historians and scientists about what these humans would have been like and trying to build a bridge from the past to the present. Written by napierslogs

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Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

31 August 2011 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Cave of Forgotten Dreams  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$139,101, 1 May 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$5,234,785, 21 August 2011
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1.85 : 1
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Trivia

The highest-grossing independently released documentary of the year 2011 in the USA. See more »

Quotes

Werner Herzog: Crocodiles have been introduced into this brooding jungle and warmed by the water to cool the reactor, man do they thrive. There are already hundreds of them. Not surprisingly, mutant albinos swim and breed in these waters. A thought is born of this surreal environment. Not long ago, just a few thousand years back, there were glaciers here 9,000 feet thick. And now a new climate is steaming and spreading. Fairly soon, these albinos might reach Chauvet caves. Looking at the paintings, what will ...
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Connections

Referenced in Na plovárne: Na plovárne s Paulem Gravettem (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

Gassy, Overblown--and Not Much Art, Either
15 July 2011 | by See all my reviews

This is a truly awful mess. Harzog's reputation must have swayed many critics, preventing them, perhaps out of overawed politeness, from admitting that this is too long and too empty, and not at all helped by the director's vaporings. He wonders rhetorically, at one point, whether 'We are the crocodiles of the future gazing into the distant past' or some such nonsense. (I liked him better when he was shoving boats over mountains.) This business comes at the end, when we (for what reason?) visit a nuclear power station whose waste heat is being used (again, for what reason?) in a kind of hot house to raise crocodiles. Another more important irrelevancy is a prolonged visit with museums elsewhere in Europe; there we hear about the sort of humans who never entered our cave. There are numerous interviews with experts; they convey little except that they are quite impressed with themselves. One of them proposes that the ancient cave artists used spears made of wood with a sharp piece of bone for a point, and insist on demonstrating his ineptitude in throwing it (at nothing). Another plays 'The Star-Spangled Banner' on a bone flute. Another talks about what we can see in a specific painting--but we can't, as the camera doesn't pause for a look.

The art? It's fantastic stuff, thrillingly beautiful--and my experience of it was damaged by Herzog's refusal to recognize the fact: there isn't very much of it, and showing the same images over and over and over again seriously dilutes their impact, especially when accompanied by varying (often awful) lighting; gassy, fake-cosmic narration (what WAS Herzog smoking??); and a score that could be used as a substitute for water-boarding. All this babble and repetition is necessary because Herzog never had enough material to make into a movie. National Geographic would have done this in an hour, not 90 minutes, done it better, and not wasted any resources on 3D.

Unprecedented access? Yes! 32,000 years old? Probably! Moving and beautiful art? Yes, but so little that my wife's comment sums it up well: 'This isn't a movie. It's ten great postcards.'


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