Herzog seems like the kind of guy I’d really love to just chill with and enjoy a good conversation for a few hours. As a documentary filmmaker he has a knack for finding the humanity, or the soul, in what would otherwise be just a very interesting documentary about a very old cave.
The cave in question is the Chauvet cave in France, which contains 33,000 year old cave paintings of lions, horses, and other animals. That would be stunningly beautiful even if they weren’t so old, but when you factor in their age they take on an entire new dimension of sacred tranquility. They were at the time of their discovery, the oldest known works of art in existence, which for historians and hobby historians alike raises so many interesting and frustrating questions.
Of course we will never have the full story, as Herzog mentions at one point in the film, this would be like finding a phone book for New York City a few thousand years from now, but if that’s all that has survived, how will we ever know the passions and energy of all those people? Now, these paintings I would say are a far cry more helpful than a phonebook as they give us great clues as to how far advanced our ancestors were in terms of abstract thought and their skills with lines and whatnot.
My mind was completely blown first that there was such a cave, but then to see it in the same lighting in a 3D setting that, for once, feels completely appropriate and complimentary of the setting in which it is being used.
The French government is very protective of this cave. It is closed off to the public, and the filmmakers were only allowed inside a few short hours per day (due to the toxicity), at which time they were confined to a small aluminum walkway in order to avoid altering in any way this precious human landmark. I highly recommend this documentary.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams gets a four out of five: GREAT.