Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Don’t be worried about watching a documentary on Southern French cave paintings. It is plenty more exciting and strange than that sounds. Firstly, you would imagine that with such old (30,000 years) and scant evidence (a young boy’s footprint, a wolf’s paw print) it would be difficult for Herzog to draw up definitive narrative conclusions, being not an archaeologist or anthropologist himself. But Herzog does what he does best – storytelling aka making wild shit up. He seems to have no problems offering up possibilities for the day-to-day goings-on in the cave.

Vor esample, puhaps da boi an da woolf ver frends, an da boi verz riding za woolf like a haus jockey, an za voolf’s name vuz Albut. An puhaps zey wud go peek mushroom and keel a beavah an eat a beavah an put beavah mask on zey fayce an lauf an lauf. Ah puhaps none of zdat happen an da voolf ate za boi and yuz da boi’s leg like a cane. An maybe da woolf wear za boi’s face like a mask an he lauf an lauf . . . you get the idea. Herzog’s insanity is not annoying however. It’s thoroughly endearing. Unless you believe he has Alzheimer’s. In which case this film is a crushing testament to man in the wake of his dementia.

The scientists also have no problem offering up interpretations of cave paintings that seem to further their own agendas. Such as the old-bag scientist who claimed the lion paintings portrayed a lioness very clearly not interested in sex. Whose face was in fact warped in disgust at the very idea of sex with the lion painted on the opposite wall. I mean, had the lion taken more of an effort to court the lioness (delivered various, precious animal meats for ex.), put more of an effort into foreplay, then maybe. Maybe if he would pay more attention to the brainy lionesses of this world and not their slutty cousins . . . How to determine gender? Well the female lion was clearly the more beautifully outlined and shaded and majestic. The male lion had more teeth missing than a hobo in winter and a clearly delineated wad of scrotums coming out of his butt. An interesting choice of perspective for the painter.

The only moment I was mildly offended by was when an anthropologist gave his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It would be a German who would befoul our national anthem with his bone-flute. Wouldn’t be the first time a German did something uncouth. Did I mention there are albino alligators in this flick? There is plenty to witness other than the oldest human art in existence . . . $7

If you heart Cave of Forgotten Dreams:

Recommendations by DJ Cheet
The Botany of Desire
Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb
Exit Through the Gift Shop: A Banksy Film

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