C is for Cave Drawings

| February 10, 2014

Recently, I watched the documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams when I was sent home sick from work. I decided that if I wasn’t being productive at work I might as well learn something by watching a movie from a running list of art documentaries I keep in order to enhance my art knowledge. The documentary is by Werner Herzog about the Chauvet Cave in southern France that contains the oldest human-painted images that have discovered. Some of them were crafted as much as 32,000 years ago. This cave is very carefully preserved meaning that the general public is not allowed to enter. Herzog received special permission from the French Minister of Culture to film inside the cave. The filming was completed heavy restrictions. People authorized to enter (only three people in the film crew) must wear special suits and shoes that have had no contact with the exterior and for only a few hours per day because of near-toxic radon and carbon dioxide levels.
Reading about the creation of the film was also very interesting. From what I know about production filming and setting up for TV production, a crew is usually very large. In this instance Herzog worked the lights, which had to not give off any excess heat, himself. The crew was allowed to use only battery-powered equipment they could carry into the cave and assemble themselves, 3-D cameras were custom-built for the production.
The crew could not touch any part of the cave’s wall or floor, and were confined to a 2-foot-wide (0.61 m) walkway, which is seen in the film as a walkway trail. This is all especially challenging considering that 3-D films were typically shot on stages with a lot of digital manipulation.
An article on slate makes a comment about the 3D imaging as the machine that fuses art and science, “twin tracks of human innovation”.