Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011)
In 1994 Jean-Marie Chauvet and two friends stumbled upon a 1300-foot long cave in southern France that contains some of the earliest human art ever discovered. The sophisticated images include over 400 animal representations, palm prints and stencils made of red ochre, black charcoal, and etching into the rock walls. There are also foot and paw prints, smoke stains and charcoal remains. Radiocarbon dating confirms that the artwork is 30,000 years old. In one case a more recent painting was superimposed on an original one five thousand years later. Hundreds of bones and skulls from at least thirteen species (but not a single human bone) litter the floor. Since the day of their discovery, access to the Chauvet Cave has been strictly controlled and limited to a small group of scientists, so it is a special treat that Werner Herzog gained exclusive access to make this documentary. The 3D technology makes you feel like you could scrape your nose against the wall. There are several instances where Herzog needlessly tries too hard to dramatize his subject matter, and veers off topic, but the end result is still a good-enough film about a fascinating subject.