The Diary: Werner Herzog; IM Pei’s Pyramid; Aurelio Zen; American Psycho; Hamlet! The Musical

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The Independent Culture

Wonder walls

If anyone can combine ancient history and cutting-edge 3D technology, Werner Herzog can. For his latest documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, he journeyed into the Chauvet cave in Southern France to film its wall paintings, some of which date back 32,000 years. The cave was discovered in 1994 but only a handful of people have been allowed to see the precious Paleolithic masterpieces inside. Herzog had to seek permission from the French government and could only shoot for a few hours, with a three-man crew, using battery-powered cameras and lights that emitted no damaging heat. It was the director's first brush with 3D, used to bring the contours of the cave to life. His relationship with wall paintings, though, goes back further. "Aged 12, I spotted a book in the window of a bookstore with a picture of a horse from the Lascaux cave on it, and an indescribable excitement took hold of me: I had to have it," says the 68-year-old director. "As my pocket money was only $1 per month, I started to work as a ball boy on tennis courts, and borrowed money from my brothers. It took more than half a year until I could buy and open the book, and the shudder of awe and wonder has never left me."

Heads first for art

It is considered a work of art in its own right but now I M Pei's Pyramid, which serves as the main entrance to the Louvre, will be used to house art for the first time since it landed, spaceship-like, in the museum's courtyard in 1989. The first work to be shown in the space, sponsored by the car-maker Maybach, will be a specially commissioned sculpture by the Liverpool-born Tony Cragg. The artist, who won the Turner Prize in 1988, will unveil the new, large-scale piece on 28 January alongside five works including 2005's Level Head, his striking profile of a grinning face. They will be displayed in parallel to the museum's upcoming retrospective of the 18th-century artist Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, who made his name with his "character heads" (such as The Arch-Evil, above centre), a series of bronze busts with faces contorted into grimaces. Pei always intended the pyramid to be a home for contemporary art; now, 22 years later, there's a chance to see if it's fit for purpose.

Zen and the art of maverick mirth

Watch out Wallander, there's a new softshoe on the beat. Next month, Aurelio Zen, the charismatic creation of Michael Dibdin, makes his debut on BBC1. The crime thrillers are brought to the small screen by Left Bank Pictures, the producers behind the starkly brilliant Wallander. Zen is an altogether different character, an Italian maverick (played by Rufus Sewell) striding around Rome with a beautiful love interest (Caterina Murino) in tow. Perhaps keen to distance himself from Kenneth Branagh's bleak Swede, Sewell wanted his man to have a sense of humour. "The first thing I said was, 'can it be at least a little bit funny please?'," says the actor. "I had a type of detective I was desperate to avoid playing, the corridor-striding wanker. I just want Zen to be more human."

Songs and slaughters

As the injury count climbs ever higher on Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, it's surprising that anyone would want to bring a new musical to Broadway. And it's even more surprising when that new musical turns out to be an all-singing, all-dancing (all-slashing, all-spurting?) version of American Psycho. With songs by Duncan Sheik, who wrote Spring Awakening's Grammy-winning rock score, the show promises to include all of the best moments from the book about the Wall St serial killer. "There are murders, and they are on stage in full view," the playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told the New York Post. "An axe and a chef's knife will be used."

A show of infinite jest

Almost as unlikely as Patrick Bateman singing a power ballad is Hamlet! The Musical, which is coming to Northampton's Royal and Derngate in May. A word-of-mouth hit at last summer's Edinburgh Fringe, the spoof features an Essex-girl Gertrude, puppets and jokes such as, "You can't make a Hamlet without breaking eggs." Just as Shakespeare intended, then.