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Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Filmmaker Werner Herzog visits Chauvet Cave

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The documentarian persuaded the French government to grant him a rare permit to film in Chauvet Cave -- site of the oldest known human art, animal paintings dating back 32,000 years. As a documentarian, Herzog (Grizzly Man) has a knack for engaging viewers' imaginations even while pursuing his own eccentric lines of inquiry. Our interest in the culture of our Ice Age ancestors ought to be assured, especially in caverns rendered otherworldly with bizarre calcite deposits and littered with the fearsome skulls of countless cave bears. But Herzog's desire to learn who these prehistoric artists were also leads him to a parade of thoughtful experts, including an "experimental archaeologist" clad in fur and playing a vulture-bone flute. Other scientists toss replica spears and try to interpret the cave's tantalizing lone depiction of a human (a partial woman with a minotaur-like companion). Meanwhile, meditating upon gorgeous images of horses, bison and wooly rhinos more distant in time from ancient Egypt than the pharaohs are from us, Herzog paints cave walls with shadows to mimic firelight. Inevitably, Cave of Forgotten Dreams raises more questions than it answers, but that's beautiful, too. In 3-D, at Cinemark Robinson Township. Starts Fri., June 17, in 2-D, at the Manor

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