You probably have heard of the Chauvet Cave in Southern France, the oldest cave preserved with incredible paintings and bones ever found, up to 32,000 years old, maybe even older. But what is a couple more thousand years? You would love to see the cave — but it is closed to the public.
Now the Chauvet Cave is coming to you, right here in Williams Lake.
The Williams Lake Film Club will bring you the film Cave of Forgotten Dreams by world-renowned German director Werner Herzog this coming Tuesday, March 20, at 7 p.m. at the Gibraltar Room.
In the Ardèche Region in Southern France a museum has been constructed at Vallon Pont d’Arc that provides visitors with an experience of the prehistoric environment, flora and fauna, and lifestyle of the painters as well as reproductions and movies about the paintings and other findings in the cave.
But we are invited to go along with Werner Herzog. One of the most successful documentaries of all time from the incomparable Werner Herzog, Cave of Forgotten Dreams provides a breathtaking cinematic experience following an exclusive expedition into the Chauvet Cave, home to the most ancient pictorial art ever discovered.
We are introduced to a series of archeologists, art historians and other scientists and academics, who have been studying the cave since its discovery in 1994 by three amateur spelunkers. Herzog and his tiny crew have received permission from the scientists and the French Minister of Culture to film the cave — the only time any filmmakers have been offered the chance to do agreeing, in his inimitable style, to become an employee of the French government for one fully taxable Euro.
Herzog had to obtain special equipment to do the filming, lights (which are not emitting so much heat), and wheels, which do not churn up the dust. Aluminum catwalks were brought in and erected on six-inch high legs to protect the floor of the cave. A network of scientific apparatus constantly monitors the temperature and humidity of the cave. And each day the tiny crew of four were only permitted to stay in the cave for a short time.
Herzog is clearly fascinated by the cave, and if you know Herzog, you know that his interest is also philosophical and not only scientific. Which adds a whole new dimension to the documentary. It even is suggested that the cave might be the birthplace of the human soul, “homo spiritus” — man awakened to the timeless, transcendental power of art.
We do not have the 3D version, but there are critics who prefer the regular filming. Let’s find out for ourselves. As the critic for the New York Times says: “What a gift Werner Herzog offers us with Cave of Forgotten Dreams.” Let us accept this gift and enjoy it together next Tuesday, March 20. Admission is $9 regular, $8 for members of the club, $6 for seniors (65-plus) and students, high school and TRU. Everyone is welcome!