68-year-old filmmaker Werner Herzog – best known for such diverse efforts as the terribly sad Timothy Treadwell documentary Grizzly Man (covering the bear lover’s infatuation with the creatures before he was ultimately killed by one) and the surprisingly compelling Bad Lieutenant (with a spot-on performance by Nicholas Cage) – has made no bones about his lack of appreciation for 3D fare such as Avatar. Funny how things change, at least when it comes to creatively-inclined auteurs, because he’s done an about-face by taking a stab at the larger-than-life technology with his new 90 minute 3-D documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams.
Fans of nature-inspired cinematic spectacles might want to keep an eye open for this one, which travels 32,000 years back in time to France’s Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc where primitive art works depicting woolly mammoths and bison were emblazoned on cave walls in ochre and charcoal. A precious slice of history offering insight into human nature and our primal need to create, the French minister of culture offered the German-born filmmaker unprecedented yet somewhat limited access to the cave (4 hours daily, six days a week) as long as he and his crew could document everything while respecting the sensitive conditions of the surrounding environment.
Considering Herzog‘s level of dedication to his craft, it’s not surprising that the resulting film has been lauded by many as being a must-see. While he has absolutely no intention of ever using 3-D technology again, in terms of the artistic pieces he captured on film in that French cave, he says that once he witnessed “the crazy niches and bulges and rock pendants in the walls, it was obvious it had to be in 3-D.” IFC must agree because they’re in the process of sealing the deal on American distribution rights, with the film slated to be released in theaters sometime next year.
Film geek bonus! Werner Herzog fans might enjoy the following question and answer session with the director about Cave Of Forgotten Dreams (be sure to start at the 1:55 mark), which should prime you for the real-deal in 2011.