Werner Herzog's 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams': A new dimension for 3D?

Critics are saying the arty German director's "enveloping" new documentary makes better use of 3D than by-the-numbers blockbuster fare

Werner Herzog (right) filming "Cave of Forgotten Dreams": The German director's foray into 3D technology takes viewers into a Paleolithic cave in Southern France.
(Image credit: Facebook)

In movieland, the third dimension is typically the province of big budget animated flicks and franchise fare. But, this weekend, theatres are handing out the special glasses for decidedly artier fare: Werner Herzog's documentary about Paleolithic cave paintings, Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Has the acclaimed German director (Grizzly Man, Aguirre: The Wrath of God) managed to de-cheese the technology as he immerses audiences in ancient caverns? (Watch the film's trailer.)

Yes, Cave is an amazing use of 3D: I typically associate 3D movies with cheap thrills and overblown franchises, but Herzog's use of it is a "stroke of genius," says Leah Carroll in The Atlantic. It's the "perfect combination of unexpected yet inevitable," a brilliant way to capture the startling beauty of Paleolithic cave paintings and the human impulse to create. Clearly, 3D technology can do more than inflate the ticket prices of tent-pole flicks.

"Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams: 3-D done right"

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And wonderfully subtle: Herzog and his cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger use the added dimension in a "lovely, quiet, enveloping way" says Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. The result is a film that "takes you to a place you won't soon forget" and serves as a refreshing alternative to the "animated mediocrities and bombastic live-action attractions slapped with the 3D label."

"Art that stands test of time"

But at times a little blah: "The 3D is sometimes less than transporting," says Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. It's not a perfect film — the "new-agey score tended to remind me of my last spa massage" and there's an extraneous coda involving albino crocodiles — but still, "it's a blast to be inside the cave, to see these images, within 3D grabbing reach."

"Herzog finds his inner cave man"

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