Werner Herzog’s documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, depicting a 3D portrayal of the prehistoric artistic creations in the Chauvet Caves at Southern France forces the viewers to rethink as to what is the quintessential essence of humanness? Concerning the nature and essence…
Doing so, Herzog nudges the contemporary viewers to reconsider the existing notions and concepts regarding creativity, art and art appreciation.
Herzog’s documentary pursues a mesmerizing journey back in time; say almost 32,000 years ago, to depict the earliest known art work created by mankind. If taken in a starkly pragmatic context, in consonance with the popular cinema as it is perceived today, prehistoric charcoal pictures should not ideally be the stuff of a gripping and thought provoking cinema. However, it is not so with Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Herzog’s usage of the 3D technology to film the ancient art work in a way redefines cinema. The nonstop projection of 3D images aided by the interviews of the experts and scientists, gives way to a creative space that is both contemporary as well as primordial, a space in which the viewers can shed their preconceived notions to think afresh about the fundamental nature and meaning of humanness.
Doing so, Herzog deliberately facilitates relevant insights into the essence of mankind. All life forms live and thrive in the cradle of nature, yet it is only the mankind that has the ability to appreciate, cherish and imitate beauty. This capacity to appreciate and imitate beauty is the true essence of humanness and art. This capacity is ancient, prehistoric, raw, rough and wild, while at the same time being contemporary, current, sophisticated, delicate and civilized. There is some essential essence, energy or ether that though indiscernible, could very much be felt and experienced, which connects the so called rawness, wildness and roughness of the prehistoric man to the sophistication, sensitivity and civilization of the contemporary humanity through the medium of art.
In the light of this vision of art and humanity, it is easy to understand the comment made by Julien Monney in the film that an Aborigine rock art Painter in ...
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In other words, he is saying that it is bewildering to receive new knowledge that changes one’s outlook on life, but it is also bewildering to try to live as you did in your old life while trying to ignore the newly gained knowledge. I feel this is a quote that applies to my life.
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