The Chauvet Cave in southern France, discovered in 1994, contains the oldest cave paintings ever found, going back more than 30,000 years. (Think, roughly, of the timespan between Moses and us, then multiply by ten.) Access to the cave has been severely limited, but filmmaker Werner Herzog is a very persuasive man. Thanks to his efforts, the good graces of the French Ministry of Culture, and the marvels of 3D technology, Cave of Forgotten Dreams (now showing in limited release) takes us inside this time-capsule, littered with bones, where the tracks of cave bears are still visible, and where the presence of our distant yet not-so-distant ancestors is uncannily strong.
I saw this film with my wife, Wendy, who tends toward claustrophobia. The 3D experience is so immersive, I was afraid she might flee the theater. But it turned out that she was entirely absorbed by the images on the walls of the cave: horses, bears, panthers, rhinos, and many more. There are handprints, too, made by a man ...1