Saturday, December 10, 2011

Studying for Physical Anthro final...

by watching documentaries and a gem from 1953.  Werner Herzog's documentary about Chauvet Cave, Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) was particularly good, though a bit slow at time with some heavy handed scoring. Herzog wrote, directed, and produced this film exploring and documenting the paleolithic cave art found near Vallon-Pont D'Arc in Southern France.  The cave had been sealed for thousands of years due to the cliff collapsing over the entrance until some explorers happened upon the site in 1994.   Due to the preservation of the cave, the art itself is almost unsettling in both its quality and freshness, as well as the discovery that the art is not from a single point in time but was layered by humans over thousands of years.  I'm not one of these folks who believes that paleo and neo-lithic man were some kind of half-wits, and just because they didn't trade pieces of paper for goods and services and think digital watches were a pretty neat idea doesn't make them artless and thoughtless savages.  Caves of Forgotten Dreams is not something to throw on when you're craving explosions and techno but it's certainly worth watching.  I would recommend it when you're having a sick day and are bundled up kind of high on cough syrup.

Then I stumbled across Neanderthal Man (1953).  It's a B-monster flick but it's actually a pretty good B-monster flick, though there are some awesome, genuinely hilariously bad moments even for the genre.  You have to watch it, just for the first fifteen minutes and you will wet yourself with disbelief.  On the upside, it deals with the works of an anthropologist, who believes that paleolithic man was as intelligent and capable as "modern" man and that modern man's brain still contains millenia of memories yet his fellow academics scoff at him.  Particularly humorous was the display of progression of brain size from chimp to modern man because it features Piltdown man.  Athro humor FTW.  So the scientist concocts a formula to unlock those paleolithic memories.  Science goes awry!  Neanderthal Man is one of those B-Movies that may be kind of crappy but the sci-fi weirdo ideas it has are pretty cool.  The rant the anthropologist goes on when his colleagues poo-poo him is actually brilliant (it begins at the 10:05 point in the clip).  Heartily recommended.  Oh and it has both Beverly Garland and Tandra Quinn!

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