- Film Festival
As I began to shift my focus to the screen before me, taking in the beauty and breathing elegance of these 32,000 year-old drawings, brought to life with incredible texture by the 3D filming, I took a moment to give thanks for my day which had been filled with creative images and the spirit of artists both living and living on through miraculous discovery -
I arrived breathless to the PFS preview screening of Cave of Forgotten Dreams, with only moments to find a seat and tear open my 3D spectacles. I do believe the Paleolithic artists of these ancient cave renderings would have understood my tardiness, as I had come from a second full day of hanging wonderful works of art for the opening of The Art of the Garden Exhibit in Haverford.
Entering the cave with filmmaker Werner Herzog and his minimal crew, you are first taken in by the awe inspiring nature of the cave itself, with formations of crystallized stalagmites and stalactites, then they revealed the first wall of cave art, the most stunning (and shown often in the film) is drawn along a bulging, jutting, curvaceous wall. It's a series of large size, well-crafted animal drawings, all kind of separate yet working inside the same mural. Many are drawn to suggest movement, almost like frames of animation.
It's amazing to me that man so long ago had the capacity, the natural talent and the desire to create beauty. And to want to communicate their world around them, to each other, for future generations, for spiritual practice. It would seem that early man would have only been about practicality and the instinct for survival. But now I think to myself, they may have been much happier than we are in many ways. Not in terms of creature comforts, but they would not have had to look for a job or navigate the rat race; instead they may have spent hours drawing with nothing much else to distract them. It makes me envious.
The caves are found in the Ardèche valley (in southern France) they are called The Chauvet Caves named after the head explorer, Jean-Marie Chauvet, who with fellow explorers, Eliette Brunel-Deschamps and Christian Hillaire made the discovery back in 1994. The cave is about 400 meters long, with many chambers. The floor of the cave is littered with the skulls and bones of many animals, some of which, like the cave bears, no longer exist today.
Archaeologist, paleontologist and various other scientists and artists are still agog over the discovery of the Chauvet caves and continue to be hard at work piecing together information from this long ago past. Yes, it's fascinating to imagine what may have taken place many thousands of years before our existence; like trying to discern whether the foot prints of a wolf so close to that of a boys means the wolf ate the boy or walked with him as a pet? But on the whole, do the caves require constant study and expense? Does it really inform our present and future? Perhaps I missed some finer points with so many French accents and interpreters.
Would love to know your thoughts on this topic and film.
Tonight (Tues April 6, 2011) Member only Preview - Circumstance (Prince Music Theater)
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