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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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Gregory VII: The 10th century and the first half of the 11th were dark days for the Church, partly because the papacy was the pawn of various Roman families. In 1049, things began to change when Pope Leo IX, a reformer, was elected. He brought a young monk named Hildebrand to Rome as his counselor and special representative on important missions. He was to become Gregory VII. 
<p>Three evils plagued the Church then: simony (the buying and selling of sacred offices and things), the unlawful marriage of the clergy and lay investiture (kings and nobles controlling the appointment of Church officials). To all of these Hildebrand directed his reformer’s attention, first as counselor to the popes and later (1073-1085) as pope himself. </p><p>Gregory’s papal letters stress the role of bishop of Rome as the vicar of Christ and the visible center of unity in the Church. He is well known for his long dispute with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV over who should control the selection of bishops and abbots. </p><p>Gregory fiercely resisted any attack on the liberty of the Church. For this he suffered and finally died in exile. He said, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.” Thirty years later the Church finally won its struggle against lay investiture.</p> American Catholic Blog In Christ, true God and true man, our humanity was taken to God. Christ opened the path to us. If we entrust our life to him, if we let ourselves be guided by him, we are certain to be in safe hands, in the hands of our Savior.

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