There are no steamships, no volcanoes and no South American guerillas, but in its own way this is as radical a film as Herzog has ever made. His use of 3D is astonishing in how it deconstructs cinematic space, just as the content of the film deconstructs human experiences of time. We may be trapped in history, as Herzog notes, but Chauvet is a space that transcends it.
Herzog's approach is interesting because he tries to explore the spritual dimension of the cave and its paintings, using a lot of cross-culture references. Sometimes this aspect is over-emphasized by Ernst Reijseger's music (that I didn't like very much). But the breathtaking way Herzog brings the beautiful paintings to life with changing light and 3D cameras makes up for this detail.
It must be an amazing experience for the film makers to enter the cave and see the panels with their own eyes. I am also amazed by how the people give a significant amount of attention to preserve the condition of the cave.
Werner Herzog directs and narrates this lovely but thin film about the old oldest known cave paintings in the world. At times magisterial, at times plodding, the film is a documentary short masquerading as a feature. It's a fascinating subject with moments of undeniable beauty, but it's ultimately repetitive and overlong (even at only 90 minutes).
A mesmerizing film that, for me, delves into what made the evolution of humanity so special and the origins of personal spirituality. The fantastic footage is the closest most viewers will ever come to experiencing the wonder of the Chauvet Cave; the wonder being the dawn of mankind. As this film suggests, man really isn't all knowing, but the cave exhibits that the Homo spiritualis is very real.
The possibility cannot be ignored that we may, in fact, be crocodiles looking back into an abyss of time, and who better than Herzog to bring it to our attention? This is a somewhat ponderous film at times, but Herzog's trademark humor -- offbeat, dry, essentially kind -- emerges at random moments like a grace note, and the images are unfailingly uncanny and evocative, like dreams within a dream.
Once again, Herzog has crafted a work of non-fiction cinema that rivals the most surreal imaginations, along with finally coming up with a practical use for 3D filmmaking. Maybe not quite Herzog's best documentary, but another strong entry to his staggering body of work.