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Into the Abyss
March 20, 2011 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Venturing into a cave more than a few steps can induce intense psychological pressure and strange sensory phenomenon. Werner Herzog's latest film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams (trailer) shot in 3D inside Chauvet Cave in southern France suggests that our compulsion for this experience is shared with many ancient cultures, such as those at Chavin de Huantar, that may have included exploitation of the acoustic properties of caves.  We continue to descend into inner spaces, increasingly with high-tech equipment.

Acoustic archeology and Chavin de Huantar previously on the blue.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (30 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sometimes you just have to build your own magical cave under your house.
posted by The Whelk at 2:28 PM on March 20, 2011


My best mate did a weeklong filmmaking workshop with Herzog. I wish I had some secondhand crazy but he was apparently a nice guy. Or my friend's just saving the good stories.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:45 PM on March 20, 2011


And the one time I went caving (in Massachussets for some university credit) I conquered my claustrophobia by reciting The Litany Aganist Fear from Dune
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:46 PM on March 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Obligatory Werner Herzog reads Where's Waldo.
posted by disillusioned at 2:49 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Werner Herzog on 3-D, Cavemen, and the Scent of a Cave Bear
posted by homunculus at 2:51 PM on March 20, 2011


The year of the 3D cave movie by old famous film directors. I'm looking forward to both.
posted by stbalbach at 3:02 PM on March 20, 2011


Here's an article from The Guardian about Caves Of Forgotten Dreams, which makes me want to watch even more than I already did.
posted by sleepcrime at 3:05 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


watch it
posted by sleepcrime at 3:05 PM on March 20, 2011


I've been in one little cave in my life. (Been to Mammoth and Carlsbad, too, highly recommended. (Go, America!)) It was at a nature preserve camp where my 6th grade class took a week-long field trip. The counselor led our group in; the opening was only about a yard wide and continued as such for about 20 feet before getting to a larger opening, so there was a bit of a shimmy involved. Being a moderately intrepid explorer, I was one of the first kids to head in.

Things were going great until I realized that the walls were moving.

Then things were going OK until I turned on my flashlight to see what it was.

THE ENTIRE SURFACE OF THE ENTRANCE TUBE WAS COVERED IN BEETLES. AAAAAHHH!!!! So I chose this moment, with people both in front of me and behind me, to completely lose my shit.

No one knew what was going on, just that I, who was usually so stoic, was freaking out. The guy behind me shined his light on me to see what was going on, noticed all the beetles, and completely lost his shit, too. There was a chain-reaction of shit-losing twelve year olds all crammed into a tiny cave opening, and it was all my fault.

It was easier to move forward than back, so I scrambled ahead, got into the main room, and did the heebie-jeebie shake down until I was sure that every 6-legged creature was removed from my person. And then I was fine.

Most of the rest of the group eventually joined us, and we listened to our counselor tell us a ghost story. By far, the hardest part of visiting the cave was leaving, knowing you had to crawl back through the bug tube to make your way to freedom.

It still makes my stomach turn just thinking about that moment when I saw all the bugs. Yeesh.
posted by phunniemee at 3:06 PM on March 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Alister Grierson is an old famous film director?

(BTW, Rotton Tomatoes currently has Sanctum at around 30%.. I wouldn't look forward to THAT one too much if I were you.)
posted by hippybear at 3:06 PM on March 20, 2011


I will kill to go into outer space.

I would also kill not to have go in a cave.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:24 PM on March 20, 2011


What about a cave in Outer Space?
posted by The Whelk at 3:39 PM on March 20, 2011


Then again I'd kill for a good eggroll.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:44 PM on March 20, 2011


Caught this at TIFF and loved it. The 3D does give me headaches at times but once you're actually in the caves the effect is stunning and really adds to your perception of the art and the space.
posted by thecjm at 3:46 PM on March 20, 2011


also caught this at TIFF and loved it. it was seriously the first film where i actually accepted the necessity of 3-d. and fittingly, being directed by herzog, there were radioactive albino crocodiles.
posted by oog at 3:59 PM on March 20, 2011


I saw this in NYC a few weeks ago. Absolutely the best use of 3-D so far, no question. (Though I hear that Jackass 3 -- no, really -- made worthwhile use of the device, as well.)

Is this the moment to start a petition to get Werner Herzog to direct Jackass 4? Who's with me?
posted by Dr. Wu at 4:09 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Whelk: "What about a cave in Outer Space"

What about Outer Space in a cave?
posted by bwg at 5:09 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Caves are awesome. At Jewel Cave in South Dakota, there is a crawl called "the Miseries." It is an 1800' (550 m) hands-and-knees crawl which dips to an 8" (20 cm) squeeze in the middle.

Happy claustrophobia, everyone!
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:18 PM on March 20, 2011


So, so excited. I can't get enough of Herzog's documentaries, and this (especially the soundtrack) sounds like a continuation of Encounters at the End of the World.
posted by Corduroy at 5:41 PM on March 20, 2011


What about Outer Space in a cave?

Hollowed out asteroid - in a cave, in outer space.
posted by The Whelk at 6:34 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


We continue to descend into inner spaces...

Only if "we" doesn't include me. One mundane cave-exploring trip as a teen clued me in to the fact that to my brain, caves=being buried alive and possibly crushed to death in airless darkness.

You can call that a spiritual experience if you want, but I'm not repeating it.
posted by emjaybee at 7:28 PM on March 20, 2011


Hollowed out asteroid - in a cave, in outer space.

No. I'm not insane.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:35 PM on March 20, 2011


Cave diving is one of the scariest things I've ever done. I've gotten the bends on a wreck dive resulting in two long stays in Duke U.'s hyperbaric chamber. I've never felt more acute terror, however, than when my tank strap got stuck on the roof of a cave for a few horrifying moments.

I love caves, though. I'm lucky to have been able to explore Porcupine Cave in Colorado when you still could.
posted by Shike at 7:45 PM on March 20, 2011


What about Outer Space in a cave?

Requires shrooms.
posted by The Whelk at 8:06 PM on March 20, 2011


I would also kill not to have go in a cave.

This seems eminently reasonable to me.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 9:07 PM on March 20, 2011


One mundane cave-exploring trip as a teen clued me in to the fact that to my brain, caves=being buried alive and possibly crushed to death in airless darkness.

Most (non cave-diving) caving deaths are due to falls from height and hypothermia. This may come as a surprise, since most people think of squeezes and crawls when they think of caves; but the heights are just as impressive. Of course, if you get stopped anywhere within a cave without sources of warmth – especially in water – you're going to become hypothermic because all of the heat of your body tries to escape to the cold rock.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:29 PM on March 20, 2011


I loved Werner Herzog (and I mean LOVED, starting with "Signs of Life"), right up until Invincible and that film about the South Pole. Grizzly Man was better, though gee, most of the movie was actually filmed by Timothy Treadwell, right?

I hope this new undertaking is better. *crosses fingers*

Thanks for the heads up, Bora.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 12:03 AM on March 21, 2011


I've been to Chavin de Huantar. I don't know if it is properly a natural cave, it is a bit more of an underground set of tunnels and rooms. It seems like it might have been a set of stone works that were then intentionally buried to look like a hill. The tunnels are narrow and tall. The whole thing is strange. There is a great dominating carved stone at a focal location in the structure. It's the first image on this page. I would usually think that the idea that an archeological site was a place to get people high and freak them out was far-fetched but that seems like a reasonable explanation of Chavin.
posted by bdc34 at 11:03 AM on March 21, 2011


America's Ancient Cave Art: Deep in the Cumberland Plateau, mysterious drawings, thousands of years old, offer a glimpse of lost Native American cultures and traditions.
posted by homunculus at 4:04 PM on March 21, 2011


This thread has a lot of talk about caves, a little about Herzog and nothing about the topic: acoustic archaeology. These links and this movie look interesting.
posted by DU at 11:34 AM on March 22, 2011


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