Reporter's Note: I write a letter to President Obama every day. It’s my way of making history.
Dear Mr. President,
I went to see an interesting movie this weekend. It is called Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a documentary by the ever-whacky Werner Herzog. Don’t take that as an insult. I’ve been of fan of his work since Aguirre: Wrath of God. How could anyone not love that scene…the raft, the monkeys, the crazy conquistador?
I first started paying attention to his work when Fitzcarraldo came out in 1982. I thought it was pretty darn interesting, so I’ve kept an eye on his work ever since.
The new film is all about Chauvet cave in France, discovered in the mid-1990’s and home to the oldest known paintings on the planet. As in, some 30,000 years old. Cave bears, lions, bison, some kind of wild looking elk; they are all there, galloping across the stone walls, and now glazed over by millennia of dripping water and crystals.
It is not a perfect film. Herzog’s narration and questions are at times right on point, and at other moments they veer off into la-la land. There is a whole section near the end about albino crocodiles that makes about as much sense as if he’d suddenly stuck a Burger King ad, or the highlights of a soccer match, into the movie.
Still, it is well worth seeing. The paintings are awe-inspiring - not just for their age, but also for their artistry. Having done a few hundred drawings and paintings myself, I have an eye for talent, and trust me…our cave dwelling friend who long ago hoisted a torch in this treacherous setting to light his work knew what he was up to. The lines are smooth and confident. The proportions are brilliant and artistic. The sense of movement is excellent. These are, simply put, very good drawings.
But beyond the technique, this movie makes you think of the vastness of mankind’s history. Long before governments. Long before the age of machines. Long before written language as we know it. Heck, I’m guessing language itself was barely on the table.
I can’t speak for you, but for my money, such thoughts are good reminders that whatever challenges I face today, they are not that daunting. Hey, I don’t have a cave bear chasing me while I try to break out my Bob Ross set, do I?
Hope all if well with you on this modern Monday.
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