Okay, so I know this is a music blog and not about movies, but I have to deviate a little from the norm here. I will spend a little time on the music, but for once, the film is the most important thing.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a 2010 documentary by Werner Herzog about a cave in France which contains the oldest known cave paintings made by humans. Ever. We’re talking something like 32,000 years old. If you need that put into perspective, the Renaissance, perhaps the largest and greatest artistic movement ever, began approximately 700 hundred years ago. And we consider that art really old.
This is one of the most stunning films I have ever seen, and the score by Ernst Reijseger is so perfect and haunting. It is truly a case of the music being there purely to enhance the visual experience. And what an experience it is. The people who created these drawings of animals by firelight had an innate sense of movement, of life. It is unknown what the cave was used for or why the drawings were done in the first place, but it is agreed that since no humans ever lived there, it was a ceremonial place. In addition to showing the incredible images from the Chauvet Cave, Herzog also interviews archaeologists about other finds in the region–more paintings, statuary, and small flutes. What all this says to me is that humans have a need for art, that we have been creating pictures and music and stories for the entirety of our existence. That these things did not serve any physical survival needs, only the psychic ones. Anyone who does not believe that we need these things, or that Arts programs are frivolous, needs to see this film. We would not be humans if we did not create art.
The whole thing is posted on YouTube. Or Netflix it. Or buy it somewhere. But see this film now.
Here’s a sample of just the music.