This week the 3D version of Werner Herzog’s documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams continues its run in Atlanta at the Regal Hollywood 24. Having seen it now in its proper 3D format, I can testify to the huge difference it makes to see the artwork in its original spacial context on the cave walls. The Upper Paleolithic artists made astonishingly sophisticated use of the cave wall contours; in at least one case, they extended the legs of an animal over a curved wall so that they looked normal when viewed from the proper angle. In another instance, the effect of a bison turning its head toward the viewer is enhanced by the curve in a wall. Effects such as these come across far more clearly when viewing the film in 3D. In general, the 3D works to give you a better sense of the space within the cave.
To be sure, not all of the 3D works equally well. At one point we see a couple of scientists standing in front of a wall painted with handprints, and the odd seams around them suggest that the 3D effect in this particular shot was created digitally, after the fact. But on the whole the format adds greatly to the emotional impact of the film.
On this second viewing I was even more impressed with Ernst Reijseger’s haunting score–I want to become more familiar with his work.