Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Werner Herzog's mindbending documentary about the Chauvet caves in France's Dordogne region, is a meditation on paintings and sculptures that are 32,000 years old. Some of the sculptures are of nude Venuses. Thus last night on The Colbert Report, the host satirized Herzog's film as "cave porn." If that's what it takes to get a wider audience for Herzog's film, so be it.
The nutty professor of documentary film, Herzog has a deadpan humor and delivery that both flummoxed and enchanted Colbert, himself the duke of deadpan. If I were the distributor of Cave, I'd use a clip from the Colbert faceoff (see video) to promote the movie.
Best known for the wild-eyed Klaus Kinski features Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982), Herzog is a most curious fellow -- in every meaning of the expression. Though he has made a number of superb feature films (my favorite is 1974's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser), Herzog's forte is the documentary. He is a human magnet for the stories of extremists and eccentrics, both human and animal.
Consider his portrait of the bear-obsessed Timothy Treadwell in the 2005 film Grizzly Man or his conversations with scientists at the South Pole in the poetic Encounters at the End of the World (2008) which included a sequence of a peevish penguin. Nobody makes films like Herzog, the human antidote to the epidemic of formula movies.
My favorite Herzogs are Even Dwarfs Started Small and Grizzly Man. Yours?