Final Descent

Miles below France’s soil are dark grottoes and jagged columns covered in prehistoric scrawlings. They offer Shamanistic visions of the underworld — grinning half-man, half-bird beasts — and catalog nature’s power struggles — a pride of lions forcing a herd of bison off a cliff. The scenes wax and wane over the caves’ bumps and crevices. When filmmaker Werner Herzog sought to make a documentary about Chauvet, the oldest cave paintings ever discovered, he needed a medium as dynamic as the canvas. So the German ventured into a realm we’d never thought he go. He not only received permission from the French minister of culture to spelunk into Chauvet, but also joined hyper-mainstream James Cameron and Jackass by filming Cave of Forgotten Dreams in, gasp, 3-D. Yet the extra dimension doesn’t feel like a marketing ploy. Herzog uses the in-your-face technology to convey the cave’s tight confines and the ancient art form’s dependence on topography. See what the director behind Grizzly Man can do with a movie about 30,000-year-old finger paintings when it screens at Coral Gables Art Cinema .
May 13-19, 7:30 p.m., 2011

 
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