Monday, July 25, 2011

Cave Movie

One of the perks of moving to New York City (oh right, that little thing, which will deserve some more commentary soon) is that the IFC Center cinema is still showing Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which I'd thought I'd maybe missed my chance to see in the theater. I knew it would be right up my alley, but still I was surprised how beautiful it was onscreen. I wouldn't have thought 3-D could be that luscious, and Herzog even works artfully with its rough edges and flaws. In some of the shots of people inside the cave, the flattened or collapsed layers of the film provide a surreally warped visual. I can only imagine that Herzog's intentionally playing with the effect.

Beyond the wonder of seeing the 30,000-year-old artwork itself -- and it's a real service to everyone that a film this enveloping was made of it -- the moving aspect of the film, to me, is watching its observers react to it. It's amazing that art this vibrant exists in such a deep reach of human prehistory, but it's equally amazing that it can still genuinely move an audience.

The music, by a Dutch cellist named Ernst Reijseger, is canny in its ancient-meets-postmodern vibe, especially for being courageously exposed during the longer art-watching shots.

And Herzog's trademark kind of loony epilogue is delightful, what with the looming nuclear cooling towers and the mini-nightmarish shots of albino crocodiles and the careening Herzog-style voiceover. I suppose in ten years we'll all have 3-D television sets and we can rewatch the film, but for now I'm happy to have seen it as intended.


Blogger Pete said...

So glad you got to see it! The film of the year, at least to this point.

7/27/2011 12:26 PM  

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