'Cave of Forgotten Dreams: Humanity's Lost Masterpiece' is a 2010 history documentary film directed and narrated by Werner Herzog.
To provide some context, in December 1994, three explorers set off across the Ardeche River in France where they discovered a hidden cave, untouched by mankind for over thirty thousand years. The cave is now known as the Chauvet Cave. The walls of the cave are decorated in prehistoric cave paintings, and it's floor scattered with fossilised bones.
Werner Herzog received special exclusive permission from French officials to access and film the cave. the cave is forbidden to the general public. Filming guidelines were strict with the film crew not permitted to touch any part of the cave, or to step off the narrow two foot wide walkway.
Did you know...
- The cave is closed to the general public - Herzog received special permission from the French Minister of Culture to access and film the interior
- Warner Herzog was only allowed to bring 3 people into the cave with him - cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger, sound recordist Eric Spitzer-Marlyn and an assistant
- The film crew were required to wear special shoes and suits, which had not had contact with the outside world
- Due to near-toxic levels of carbon dioxide and radon, the crew were unable to stay in the cave for more than a few hours each day
- The 3D cameras were custom built for the production, and were assembled inside the cave
- The film were only able to use battery-powered equipment, and lights which did not distribute additional heat
- Werner Herzog is not a fan of 3D film, and chose to film the cave in 3D to enable the viewer to experience the contours of the cave walls - Herzog does not intend to use 3D again in his films
Awards and nominations
- Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award winner for Best Documentary
- Dallas Fort-Worth Film Critics Association Award winner for Best Documentary
- Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award winner for Best Documentary
- Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award winner for Best Documentary/Non-fiction Film
- New York Film Critics Circle Award winner for Best Non-fiction Film
- Online Film Critics Society Award winner for Best Documentary
- USA National Society of Film Critics Award winner for Best Non-fiction Film
- Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award winner for Best Documentary
- Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Award winner for Best Documentary
- American Cinema Editors nomination for Best Edited Documentary
- Broadcast Film Critics Association Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature
- Chicago Film Critics Association Award nomination for Best Documentary
- Chlotrudis Award nomination for Best Cinematography (Peter Zeitlinger)
- London Critics Circle Film Award nomination for Documentary of the Year
- Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Award nomination for Best Sound Editing (Sound effects, foley, dialogue, ADR and music) in a Feature Documentary (Eric Spitzer)
- San Diago Film Critics Society Award nomination for Best Documetnary
- Satellite Award nomination for Best Motion Picture Documentary
Closing remarksThe documentary is beautifully filmed by Herzog, with effective use of sound, including a haunting musical score. There are also some moments, where there is no music, but the sound of a heart beating in the silence.
The film gives the film spectator a sense of actually being at the cave. I haven't seen the 3D version of the film, but I can only imagine how enhanced and realistic the experience would be in 3D. I found it fascinating to see the way in which nature protects and preserves itself, when untouched by man. Many of the cave paintings are self embalmed, looking freshly painted. After watching this film, you can't help but wonder what other hidden treasures are waiting to be discovered.