CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS is not a film in wide release. That means it is not easy to find. It will play in only a few cities on a limited number of screens. But, if you can find it, please do. It is exceptional.
Werner Herzog, the filmmaker and documentarian, has been afforded access to visit the caves of Chauvet in Southern France. Here are the oldest known paintings that humans created. As an old friend of mine once said, “It was ever thus.”
To see the detail and grace of these paintings is to know that throughout time, humans have had the same feelings, intuitions and dreams. These images are 35,000 years old. And they portray the basic human needs: hunting for food, seeking shelter and the fertility of women – immortality. The magnificent renderings of horses, elk, and horned antelopes are captured in mid-run it seems. The naturalistic representation of the animals is in contrast to the abstract images of human, especially of women. They are portrayed as vessels of fertility. A spiritual awe is almost palpable.
What is also fascinating is listening to the scientists and artists, working together, struggling to find THE STORY. Who were these people? What did they want? Why did they paint these images? Of course we can’t know definitively, but the struggle to understand, to make sense, THROUGH STORY, of what is in these caves is the essential human endeavor. We tell stories. We look for them, we seek them, we can’t understand our history, our present nor think about our future without story.
And this, of course, is what trial lawyers should learn from this beautiful film. Find the story and attach that story to the largest theme you can conceive. If you don’t, the viewer, the listener, will look for one on her own and supply one for you.
TIP: Are you telling a story that has been told for 35,000 years? Does your story link to a universal, eternal theme?