Cave of Forgotten Dreams

DOCUMENTARY; 1hr 30min

DIRECTED BY: Werner Herzog

The Chauvet Cave art was discovered on Dec. 18, 1994

Does any discovery come with more wow than the 32,000-year-old, immaculately preserved rock paintings found in 1994 in a cave in southern France? Not only are they the oldest paintings ever uncovered but in the words of director Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man), who also narrates with palpable awe, the delicately and perceptively rendered animal images — of around 13 species, including horses, bison and rhinos — are “a perfect time capsule.”


When, along with a group of scientists, Herzog and his skeleton crew are permitted limited visits to the Chauvet Cave, the prehistoric images they capture on film are so stunningly alive it’s as though they’ve been painted minutes before, yet the gulf of years is staggering. What are the stories of those who did the work? The cave’s creamy, glittering, sculptural interior is a window to the dawn of time through which researchers seek to peer; the wonder-struck director among them. “It is,” he says, marvelling with the rest of us, “as if the modern human soul had awakened here.”