Thursday, April 21, 2011

3D Adventure "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" by Werner Herzog

Today, on NPR's Fresh Air program, Terry Gross interviewed the great film maker Werner Herzog on his new 3D film "Cave of Forgotten Dreams":
In 1994, three French cave explorers discovered hundreds of prehistoric paintings and engravings on the walls of the Chauvet Cave in southern France.

Carbon dating has since shown that the depictions of rhinoceroses, lions, cave bears, horses, bison, mammoths and other animals are between 30,000 and 32,000 years old.

That doesn't mean the ancient drawings are any less sophisticated than what artists create today, says filmmaker Werner Herzog.

"Art ... as it bursts on the scene 32,000 years ago, is fully accomplished. It doesn't start with 'primitive scribblings' and first attempts like children would make drawings," Herzog says. "It's absolutely and fully accomplished."

The acclaimed German director, who has produced, written and directed more than 40 films, gained exclusive access to the Chauvet caves. He tells their story and the story of the world's oldest cave paintings in The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a 3-D documentary film.
Herzog described part of the reasons he was attracted to these paintings was the knowledge that tens of thousands of years ago, humans had the instinct to make art in order to represent the world around them.

According to the interview, "making a documentary inside the Chauvet caves was a difficult endeavor — in part because the cave has so many restrictions. All visitors are required to obtain permission from the regional French government and wear protective body suits to prevent the spread of bacteria and biological growth within the cave. Herzog had to convince both government officials and scientists that he would film inside the cave for only one week."

He also explained the reason to film this documentary in 3D - not the flashy kind aiming to awe the audience but to represent a hidden world most people would not gain access to, according to Terry Gros.

Herzog stated that, "when I saw photos, it looked almost like flat walls — maybe slightly undulating or so. Thank God, I went in there without any camera a month before shooting. What you see in there is limestone, and you have these wildly undulating walls — you have bulges and niches and pendants of rock, and there's a real incredible drama of information. The artists utilized it for their paintings. ... So it was clear it was imperative to do this in 3-D, in particular, because we were the only ones ever allowed to film."

His film seems the most appropriate way of using this technology, instead of employing it to film opera singer's denture cavities as Royal Opera House, Covent Garden has done.

I wish someone will follow Herzog's lead and start to film, with 3D technology, many cultural and natural treasures off-limits to most, such as the inside of Pyramides, and the labyrinth like Mogao Grotto in China and the invaluable Buddhist paintings and sculptures there.

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