carl_son’s review published on Letterboxd:
“The sequence and duration of time is unimaginable for us today. We are locked in history, and they were not.”
For me, Herzog’s great power lies in the confluence of his writing and his willingness to explore, to adventure out into the world. He lives the stories he is interested in, which is an inspiration, and is able to assess them, relate them, recreate them, beautifully. A meeting of interior structure and physical reality. It is tempting for me to think this film is powerful mostly due to the art it bears witness to, but I must remember that the spans of time locked away within it are animated only by the drive to tell and his narrative told. Even then, subject to such unyielding consideration, the full flush of what it is there on the walls is impossible to grasp, though if we are lucky and willing it may flash before us, the quick lightning that is gone and leaves its outline in negative, before that also is swallowed up by the present and gone. It is a dream forgotten to time, and the time forgotten, and the forgetting forgotten, too. It is deeper than we know, the space outside history.
Consider: If we measured years in feet, you’d walk back about 0.05 miles to reach the foundation of the US, and ~0.28 miles to meet King Arthur. King Tut dies at 0.63 miles, and ~0.95 miles gets you to the very beginnings of Ancient Egypt. But to reach the painting of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave, you’d need to hike approximately 6.6 miles. The scale of time being dealt with here is only a little clearer this way, but is still...well, like Werner says, unimaginable. There is so much lost. All of known human history — the beginnings of agriculture, the rise and fall of empires, all the art and ideas and stories you think of when you imagine all the untold stories — is the proverbial tip of the human iceberg, and what waits underwater is massive and cold and impossible. Especially considering anatomically modern Homo sapiens (that’s PEOPLE, like us!!!) are verified to have lived, at least, nearly 57 miles down the trail.
Idk. I’m just trying to write myself into being able to see the flash, but it’s not much doing atm. If you’re reading this, I hope your luck was better.
Anyway. Thanks, Werner and Chauvet et al. and the ex-unicycler and the woman preserving it all now and the smiling guy proudly hucking spears down the vineyard rows. Cool movie.