Recently, I watched one of the latest movies of the prominent German director, Werner Herzog three times almost incessantly. First, I watched the Cave of Forgotten Dreams with English subtitles to understand the narrations and dialogues of the film accurately and then watched it again to absorb the real magic and beauty of the paintings of the pristine Cave of Chauvet in southern France.
It is very exciting to know there are still some hidden places and mysterious things on the planet earth, which after thousands of years are wholly intact. Thereby the ghosts of our ancient fathers can speak to us by the means of excellent art and unbelievable imaginations.
In this film, as is the case with the other movies of Werner Herzog, director proposes some serious questions about human nature, his life and death, and encourages the audiences to think about the fundamental problems of human condition. One of the most striking questions of this movie, I believe, is whether the human soul really goes further, makes progress, and becomes more descent and perfect or is it simply that it goes to another situation without any progression?
The paintings on the walls of Chauvet Cave are so fresh and innovative that we can barely believe they’ve been created some 30,000 or 40,000 years ago by the hands of some unknown persons who may be inappropriately named primitive by many contemporary people. These paintings are not as crude as they may seem. But they have, surprisingly, some characteristics of modern art, namely perspective, and as also mentioned by Herzog himself, some cinematic elements. So, how could we label such people, be it primitive or modern? If the main trait of human race is his innovation and his sensitivity, so those ancient people are not primitive.
One time, three or four years ago, most of my time was passed on the study of The Bible. On that occasion, I was always impressed by the idea that maybe the ancient writers of the scriptures were more like modern writers than it may appear at the first sight. After that occasion, I am convinced that modern writings have rather more resemblance to that of the ancient past than we may think or would like them to. After watching Herzog’s Cave of the Forgotten Dreams, once again this is the question: “are we really different from ancient people in such matters as soul, sensitivity and innovation? And should we accept that human honors and dishonors are as the same as his old relatives?” These are parts of those questions that Herzog have asked us frequently. In the “Aguirre, the Wrath of God”, Herzog stunningly displays the dark side of human nature. In the Cave of Forgotten Dreams he mainly represents the beautiful and glowing aspects of human soul. In both cases, Herzog tries to acquaint the audience with the unknown.
Just as the Cave of the Forgotten Dreams shows us, there are always secret things to see, sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly! And there are still some place for the mysteries in this world, sometimes hidden caves, and sometimes great movies and old books, all of them as a road to the unknown.
Thank you Hadi, and Happy New Year!
January 1, 2014