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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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James Oldo: You’ve heard rags-to-riches stories. Today, we celebrate the reverse. 
<p>James of Oldo was born into a well-to-do family near Milan in 1364. He married a woman who, like him, appreciated the comforts that came with wealth. But an outbreak of plague drove James, his wife and their three children out of their home and into the countryside. Despite those precautions, two of his daughters died from the plague, James determined to use whatever time he had left to build up treasures in heaven and to build God’s realm on earth. </p><p>He and his wife became Secular Franciscans. James gave up his old lifestyle and did penance for his sins. He cared for a sick priest, who taught him Latin. Upon the death of his wife, James himself became a priest. His house was transformed into a chapel where small groups of people, many of them fellow Secular Franciscans, came for prayer and support. James focused on caring for the sick and for prisoners of war. He died in 1404 after contracting a disease from one of his patients. </p><p>James Oldo was beatified in 1933.</p> American Catholic Blog Even when skies are grey and clouds heavy with tears, the sun rises. So to with our souls, burdened by life’s sins and still He rises.

 
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