Cave of Forgotten Dreams

2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: Hauntingly filmed and brimming with Herzog's infectious enthusiasm, Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a fascinating triumph.

AUDIENCE SCORE


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Cave of Forgotten Dreams follows an exclusive expedition into the nearly inaccessible Chauvet Cave in France, home to the most ancient visual art known to have been created by man. It's an unforgettable cinematic experience that provides a unique glimpse of the pristine artwork dating back to human hands over 30,000 years ago - almost twice as old as any previous discovery. -- (c) IFC Films

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Critic Reviews for Cave of Forgotten Dreams

All Critics (132) | Top Critics (32)

It is our tour guide that makes Cave of Forgotten Dreams an often thrilling experience.

Jul 8, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

The overall effect, aided by Ernst Reijseger's score of rising choral harmonies and lush strings, is rapturous.

Jul 7, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4

To call "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" a great movie isn't just an understatement, it's a wildly inaccurate way to describe an experience that, in its immersive sensory pleasures and climactic journey of discovery, more closely resembles an ecstatic trance.

May 6, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

This is something more than a movie; it's a testament - and re-creation - of rapture.

May 6, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Art history lessons don't get much better: "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" presents the world's oldest paintings captured by one of film's great visionaries.

May 5, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

What we get from this film: a specific and personal sense that 32,000-year-old artists, with all their ideas and passions, were not, fundamentally, that different from us.

May 5, 2011 | Rating: 4/4

Audience Reviews for Cave of Forgotten Dreams

½

Director Werner Herzog has been making some exceptionally great documentary films lately, and this foray into a long forgotten cave in France is no exception. Much of the film relies on showing the audience what it takes to get into the cave, which is cordoned off from the viewing public to keep out mold and particles that could destroy the cave paintings. (Which are the oldest in the known world.) In the last twenty minutes of the documentary we get to see all the paintings up close, without narration, and only simple music to soothe and calm. The film played extensively in the IMAX theaters in 3D, and the effects of that would probably have been transient. Still, without that glorious illusion the paintings still look beautiful, as is the way they are filmed. We learn the history of them before we see many of them, so their meaning is all the more fluid and histrionic, making the spectacle into one unmatched in modern cinema.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

It is unfortunate that the Chauvet Cave in France is nearly inaccessible, as it is home to the oldest cave drawings in the world. Fortunately, the best possible choice for a documentarian on the cave was given unprecedented access to embark on an expedition to film what is hidden down there. The film was shot on a strict set of rules, and in 3D. I didn't unfortunately get to see it this way, but I could tell that it was used effectively given how the paintings are done on the curves of the cave walls instead of flat canvases. The film is actually really straightforward and seems like a typical documentary. Of course, it's not completely that way, as Herzog's unmistakable voice and way of speaking dominate the proceedings, but it really is pretty basic stuff. Granted, it's still a good film, despite this, and its important due to the subject matter, but it doesn't stand out like Herzog's other stuff does. I do appreciate how the paintings are treated and analyzed as art though, but while I do like it when he features eccentric talking heads, it all felt really repetitive and tedious here. I'm probably being just a tad kind to this film, mostly because I love Herzog, am a history student, and work as a tour guide in a cave, but those biases aside, this is some good stuff, just kinda uneven in its presentation.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

½

More than "art appreciation," Cave of Forgotten Dreams aims to meditate on the possible birthplace of what makes you and I mentally unique in the animal kingdom. Herzog has a beautiful opportunity to show what 30,000 years looks like through the development of stalactites and stalagmites layered over ancient bones and footprints. He states at the very beginning that the drawings on this cave are twice as old as the next oldest known drawings. We would expect them to be primitive, but they are far, far from it. We see the emotions of the animals, we see their movements, their breath. We see a legendary myth still alive today. Our abilities to think abstractly, focus, and document our experience are all present here -- all necessary to create our sense of presence and spirituality.

Matthew Slaven
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

½

"Mankind's Lost Masterpiece" Cave of Forgotten Dreams is only the second Herzog documentary I have seen; the other being Encounters at the End of the World. Both of which have taken me to a place where I can only dream of going, and have done so with magnificent beauty. That's what this film is all about. Everyone who has complained about Herzog not answering or even asking a lot of questions, is missing the point. This isn't about answers because there really aren't any. Everything about how those paintings came to exist is purely speculation. We can't be transported back tens of thousands of years ago. What it is about is transporting us to a beautiful place that we will never be able to visit and to show us the enormity of human existence. To think about the time between when these paintings were created, relative to where we are now is mind blowing; at least to me anyway. Herzog does everything right because he lets the cave paintings do the talking. His narration isn't there to give us countless facts about what we are seeing, but is there to show an admiration for what we are seeing. He almost lyrically embraces every painting we see, in such a beautiful way. Then he'll just stop talking, play music, and show us the paintings because that's what we are watching for.  Making guesses as to how these paintings were made and by whom is just not important, and is really below Herzog. The enormity of what we are looking at wouldn't come across if all he was doing was asking experts their opinions as to a variety of pointless questions. No, this movie is all about the silence. I especially enjoyed the part where he told everyone in the cave to be quiet and just filmed the silence in the cave. These paintings have existed for thousands and thousands of years without anyone even knowing it. They existed in silence, yet they still existed. I love how he brings us back to this moment at the end with the heartbeats.  If this bores you, I really do feel sorry for you, because you would have to be so out of touch with the human soul that Herzog talks about, to not be completely moved by it. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a one of a kind film that only Herzog could make.  In many ways, this film is almost too breathtaking to describe. To describe its beauty in a way that is respectful is damn near impossible. 

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

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