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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Cave of Forgotten Dreams - Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray Combo [Blu-ray]


(Werner Herzog, 2010)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Creative Differences

Video: MPI Home Video



Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:30:04.315

Disc Size: 46,164,474,498 bytes

Feature Size: 19,889,301,504 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.42 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 29th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3402 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3402 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), Spanish, none



Ode to the Dawn of Man (39:16 in 1080i)

Trailer (2:11 in 1080P)





Description: CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS, a breathtaking new documentary from the incomparable Werner Herzog (Encounters at the End of the World, Grizzly Man), follows an exclusive expedition into the nearly inaccessible Chauvet Cave in France, home to the most ancient visual art known to have been created by man. One of the most successful documentaries of all time, CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS is an unforgettable cinematic experience that provides a unique glimpse of pristine artwork dating back to human hands over 30,000 years ago -- almost twice as old as any previous discovery.


Werner Herzog gains exclusive access to film inside the Chauvet caves of Southern France, capturing the oldest known... pictorial creations of humankind in their astonishing natural setting.



The Film:

The restriction of four small portable light panels works to Herzog's advantage; as they move, they suggest how the flickering torches might have created an illusion of movement in those repeated features. The space was so limited it was impossible for his crew to stay out of many shots, and their shadows dance on the walls, just as the shadows of forgotten ancestors must have danced in the torchlight. Herzog's inspiration is to show us the paintings as the cave's original visitors must have seen them. I have seen perfectly lighted photographs of other cave paintings that are not so evocative.

Herzog says that in general, he dislikes 3-D. But he believes there are occasions when 3-D is appropriate, and this film is one of them. I saw it with bright, well-focused digital projection. Apart from a one-shot joke at the very end, he never allows his images to violate the theater space; he uses 3-D as a way for us to enter the film's space, instead of a way for it to enter ours. He was correct to realize how useful it would be in photographing these walls. To the degree that it's possible for us to walk behind Herzog into that cave, we do so.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

High up on an almost inaccessible cliff face in the stunning French Ardèche is a small metal door. As Alice would say, it’s an odd place for a door, but what’s behind it is even more surprising. Probably best described as The Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic art, the interior of the Chauvet cave, named after one of the speleologists who discovered them in 1994, is covered with incredible, shockingly vivid ancient paintings, their miraculous preservation the result of a rockfall tens of thousands of years ago. Recognising both the uniqueness of the paintings and their worrying fragility (similar paintings in other caves have been affected by mould growth, the result of the moisture in human breath), the French government closed the site to anyone but a handful of experts. In the intervening decade-and-a-half more people have been to the summit of Everest than have gazed at the paintings and no filmmaker has been allowed to shoot inside.

Excerpt from Empire Online located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams has many moments that are extremely impressive in 1080P. You can, kind of, get swept-up in these amazing visuals... and their intrinsic meaning - in a historical sense. There is a bit of noise on the Blu-ray visuals but this only when they are in the deepest, darkest recesses - where Herzog only received permission to film the caves because he used lights that emitted no real heat.  This disc offers viewing in both 'standard' Blu-ray as well as '3D' (seemingly very un-Herzog) how it was shown at the Toronto Film Festival in 2010. It can add much appreciated texture and depth - and certainly not gimmicky as you might see in a mainstream blockbuster. It seems to brighten up the frame.  This is dual-layered but sharing the lone disc are both renderings and the 40-minute additional documentary in HD. Colors weren't really notable but some of the natural scenes with slow pans show a high level of detail. Contrast is strong and the frame occasionally varies in aspect ratio from 1.78 to about 1.72:1 (actually 1.33:1 at one vintage film dance sequence). Overall, I'd say this Blu-ray is impressive and makes for an awesome viewing experience.















Audio :

Audio comes in the form of a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 3402 kbps. Aside from the original music by Ernst Reijseger it is basically just narration and some subtle heartbeats. But the music absolutely plays a part in the film presentation and sounds amazing in lossless (it is as majestic as The Tree of Life). This is the English narrated (by Herzog) version - even translating the interviewee's non-English dialogue - not the French (Volker Schlöndorff) dialogue and there are optional English and Spanish subtitles on the region FREE 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Supplements include Herzog's compelling "Ode to the Dawn of Man" - a 40-minute documentary about the composer of Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Ernst Reijseger. For those keen on the impressive score - this will prove interesting. There is also an HD trailer.



Very cool documentary from Herzog. Just take the premise; "In 1994, a group of scientists discovered a cave in Southern France perfectly preserved for over 20,000 years and containing the earliest known human paintings." Add some poetic essence and you have an extremely intriguing film. This Blu-ray is wonderful in many important areas - and although I am not a fan of 3D - that representation is included for those who are. Beyond the visual curiosities - this is a must-see documentary. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

November 7th, 2011



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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