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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service

The Chauvet caves in southern France hold the world's oldest art treasures, and Werner Herzog's 3-D documentary, "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" (IFC), is the only way to fully experience their awe-inspiring paintings.

Although rated G, like any other visit to an art museum, it would be better appreciated by mature older adolescents, given its frank discussions of paintings and sculptures of nude women. The 32,000-year-old cave paintings are breathtaking, and snickering would be intrusive.

Herzog doesn't use the 3-D technology just to add novelty and depth to cave features such as stalactites. Almost all the Paleolithic paintings of 13 species, including horses, antelope, bison, lions, birds and rhinoceros, were made on curved rock walls, and when they were created by torchlight, and now illuminated by the flickering lights of the camera crew, were and are meant to give the illusion of depth and motion.

Many of the paintings are so sophisticated in execution that when they were first discovered in 1994—before being quickly sealed off by the French government to protect them—there was much investigation to determine that they weren't modern frauds.

What does the artwork mean? Several authorities offer theories, although since the caves were never used as homes, it's generally assumed that the art holds spiritual meaning. Everyone's tone is appropriately hushed.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G—general audiences. All ages admitted.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Alphonsus Rodriguez: Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. 
<p>Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. </p><p>Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. </p><p>His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. </p><p>Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.</p> American Catholic Blog People mess up, and it’s especially hard to watch as our children and other young people go down paths we know are likely to lead to heartbreak. Providing gentle guidance when it’s needed, and love even when that guidance isn’t followed, helps them to start fresh.

 
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