Cave of Forgotten Dreams review

The newest documentary from German madman Werner Herzog focuses on the Chauvet Cave in France and the 30,000 year old cave paintings found within.  Herzog, along with a small film crew, were granted rare access to the cave for short periods of time under the strict supervision of its preservers.  He chose to shoot the film in 3-D in order to capture the contours of the cave walls, a wise decision considering that proper viewing of this ancient art can only be attained by observing the actual contours of the canvas.  Unfortunately, due to equipment limitations, Cave of Forgotten Dreams will be shown to Philadelphia audiences in 2-D, which means that we’re missing out on a lot.  What we’re left with is a documentary fit for cable television that showcases Herzog’s typically dry yet over-the-top narration as well as a series of interviews with wacky archeologist types.  The art is fascinating regardless, but c’mon Philadelphia, we’re the fifth largest city in the country.  Let’s get our film community’s act together before the Alamo Drafthouse crew take notice and set up shop…

Cave of Forgotten Dreams opens today at the Ritz East.

Official site.

Author: Eric Bresler

Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.


  1. What equipment limitations? I know the Ritz Theaters have digital projectors, since they showed the rerelease of Metropolis in digital. (Don’t get me started on that…) So honestly, they have no excuse. Especially since last weekend they had a poster outside the Ritz East saying the film was in 3D, with no indication that it wouldn’t be.

  2. That’s all the Ritz East manager told me, I didn’t ask for details, but I assume that there’s a big difference between regular digital projectors and those that are able to project 3-D. Maybe there’s a special type of screen involved also…I’m just brainstorming.

    I saw the re-release of Metropolis at the Ritz at the Bourse last summer as well and there was definitely some artifacting and general fuzziness/dullness, but that seems to be the standard at that particular theater. I saw the same things happen last year on the same screen with The Exploding Girl, Winnebago Man, and a few of the films that were a part of Q Fest’s Danger After Dark programming. I’m afraid this is becoming the standard experience for seeing films at some of those theaters where moviegoers are simply forced to take what we can get.

  3. Modern 3D definitely only requires a digital projector. My BS detector is pointed at the Ritz East manager, and it’s going off the charts!

  4. Hm, then maybe they just didn’t want to put up money for the glasses…now I’m very curious, anyone out there want to investigate?

  5. I can’t program any 3D films at any of the Ritz theaters for Danger After Dark either, or so I’ve been told. Not all digital projectors are created equal, and I gather that’s the problem. I think you would need an HDCam system for that type of RealD-3D, and I think the Ritzes are still using DigiBeta.

  6. Dang, that sucks. You’d think the Ritzes wouldn’t be so cheap. Honestly, I really hope the Alamo Drafthouse does set up shop in Philly. Or maybe they could buy the Ritz theaters from landmark? Or maybe this is just insanely wishful thinking.

  7. I actually contacted Alamo Drafthouse kingpin Tim League last year about potentially taking over the Prince Music Theater, but nothing came of it.

  8. FYI, I was at the Ritz East yesterday morning so I asked the projectionist about this situation. According to him all the venue needed for 3D was a lens for their digital projector, but the Landmark people didn’t want to get one so they went ahead with a 35mm 2D print.

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