- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4 (2D); MVC (3D)
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: G
- Run Time: 90 Mins.
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray 3D)
- Studio: MPI
- Blu-ray Release Date: November 29, 2011
- List Price: $34.98
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Filmmaker Werner Herzog, known mainly for his documentaries such as the Oscar-nominated Encounters at the End of the World (2007) travels back in time, metaphorically speaking, in this latest documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams. In an exploration of the Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc in southern France, Herzog opens a window on a world of human history long lost to us, and it is spellbinding.
The cave had long been sealed off by a rock slide, for what scientists estimate to be 25,000 years, until its discovery in 1994. Inside, on the walls, is a virtual treasure trove of human history. Wall paintings and carvings, footprints of small children and animals, hand prints – things that no eyes had been privy to for many thousands of years. Inside these caves, the paintings on the wall are so delicate that even the human breath can damage them and access is extremely limited. Herzog and his crew navigate through much of the cave system single file on a narrow metallic walkway so as not to disturb te ground below.
The 3D production employed for Cave of Forgotten Dreams is mesmerizing, to say the least. It is as if the people who drew these paintings of bison, bears, lions, panthers, and other creattures on the walls to tell their stories are lurking around each undulating corner or breathing over your shoulder. This is the promise and strength of 3D on display without the crazy Hollywood budget and blue aliens to get in the way.
The 3D 1080p MVC transfer of Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a difficult one to review, I must admit. Captured originally in 3D, this is not some gimmicky Hollywood 3D conversion meant to suck you into the theatre and extra dough right out of your wallet. This is the real deal and there are many moments where it really shows. There is an amazing sense of natural depth both inside and outside of the cave. The bumps and pits on the cave wall almost seem to ebb and flow like the ocean tide. There is only one brief segment here where there is an unnatural use of the 3D effect, and that is early on where there is a CGI graphic of the 3D mapping of the underground caves shown, which has a good amount of pop-out.
The downside to this 3D transfer is, there are a lot of darkly lit areas, obviously, that don’t always lend themselves to great detail and some moments are shot with non-professional cameras due to the preservation requirements of the cave itself. This shows up as very noisy and not particularly strong in three-dimensionality. I also found this release to be one of the most difficult on my gear when it came to crosstalk. I saw medium to heavy ghosting from the very opening shot. I’ve seen enough 3D material now to know that this really varies wildly based on source material. Of course, it could very well be a combination of source material and my display.
The 2D HD was equally strong and detailed, but also suffered from the same issues with video noise in the same spots, as one would expect. Flesh tones were natural and shadow detail in the better captured scenes were good, but still showed some crush and softness. Even without the issues with crosstalk, however, this was definitely not as amazing to watch without that sense of depth that the 3D imparted.
The sole option offered on Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack that is very effective in capturing the ambient sounds of the Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc. The surround channels ooze with the eeriness of the surroundings, a distant click, the tap of footsteps. Dialogue is clean, and, of course, the plaintive score by Ernst Reijseger is airy and dynamic.
The supplements are slight, but they are interesting nevertheless, including an in-depth featurette on the recording sessions for the film’s emotional score.
The supplements provided with this release:
- Ode to the Dawn of Man (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:39:16) — This featurette follows the recordings in the Protestant Church of Haarlem, The Netherlands over the course of 2 days in July 2010 of the film’s musical score by Ernst Reijseger, the composer, who also plays cello.
- Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24)
The Definitive Word
An insightful and delightful look into the past, Cave of Forgotten Dreams is an educational and introspective look at where humanity has come from, and perhaps where we are going. If you haven’t already seen this, I implore you to gather your family around and to sit down and watch it together.
Additional Screen Captures