In 1994, three explorers discovered an ancient cave in southern France that became known as the Chauvet Cave after one of the discoverers. Awarded the Best Documentary for 2011 by the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, this Werner Herzog production (and narrated by the man himself) is an eerie look at the ancient past that is perfectly preserved. Sealed off by a landslide centuries ago, the cave has existed out of time.
The cave contains what are most likely the earliest paintings known to man – at an estimated 32,000 years old, the cave paintings are twice as old as any known paintings previously believed to have existed. The documentary runs the cameras over the drawings again and again in a repetitive fashion – bisons, horses, rhinos, tigers. But that’s ok. Such astounding images require that we linger over them and let our imagination drift back to prehistoric times.
One sequence talked about, but not shown, are in regard to footprints on the floor of the cave of a wolf and a young boy side by side. A frozen moment in time. Our was it two frozen moments frozen in time captured and preserved together? Were the footprints made hundreds, maybe even thousands of years apart? Were the boy and the wolf walking side by side, the wolf a domesticated companion? Was the wolf stalking the young boy? We’ll never know, but each possibility tells a story. It’s this kind of speculation that the caves engender. The kind of thoughts that leads one to wonder about the nature of time and reality itself.
The Cave of Forgotten Dreams is an immersive viewing experience, to be embarked on in a moment of tranquility. The images shown are akin to those pictures of earth as seen from outer space. Be in a spiritual frame of mind and you’ll be transported by awe and wonder.