Directed and narrated by German filmmaker Werner Herzog known for his recent documentary Grizzly Man and his epic Peruvian film with Klaus Kinski in 1982, Fitzcarraldo, Herzog takes viewers on a more cloistered tour of the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in Southern France. Discovered in 1994 by speleologists Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, Christian Hillaire, and Jean-Marie Chauvet (hence the name), the cave was found to contain perfectly preserved prehistoric cave drawings of various animals believed to be roughly 32,000 years old. This fact is the mind boggling premise of the whole film and is something that modern individuals have a hard time wrapping their heads around as it is so far outside modern history.
The cave remained untouched by the elements and man for the millennia due to landslide that covered the mouth of the cave roughly 20,000 years ago. Due to the precariousness of this delicate find, Herzog and the accompanying team of scientists were given a limited window to visit and extreme restrictions. “Do not touch anything!” and “Do not stray from the path!”.
Interesting tidbits: The paintings themselves are sublimely beautiful, however what I found fascinating was the physical representations of the Ice Age in Europe. Having pictures of cave bears, mammoths, and rhinoceroses living side by side with humans in Southern France is mind boggling as are the preserved handprints and bear claw marks.
Geek tidbits: While there are few geeky things about a Prehistorical cave, some of the technology used to capture every square millimeter of the cave is impressive. To date 527,000,000 data points have been collected during 1800 hours of topography and 680 hours of scanning. And there is a tidbit for art historians as a stalactite does appear to show a female form embracing a bull or a minotaur indicating early human abstraction.
Art Geek Factor: 7 out of 10 Stars
Artistic Accuracy: 9 out of 10 Stars
Overall Movie: 9 out of 10 Stars
Summary: This film is a must see for anyone with even a minor interest in art or humanity as the scope of time is mind boggling. Although the modern human mind may understand the abstract concept of 32,000 years of human history, in reality I believe it is incomprehensible. Imagine 1600 generations! To illustrate this point, after waiting 32,000 years to view the cave paintings of Chauvet, 60 minutes into the film I thought it was probably about 30 minutes too long.
Readers Movie Ratings:
Cave of Forgotten Dreams,