Werner Herzog’s documentary “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” (MPI) is an exploration of the ancient Chauvet Cave, home to the oldest human artwork known to exist. Yes, we’re talking cave paintings which survived because the cave was sealed off and preserved for centuries upon centuries. It’s the cavern that time forgot and only a handful of people are allowed inside to maintain the conditions that have preserved these artifacts, some as old as 32,000 years. Herzog petitioned to be one of the few and bring a camera in to share the visions with the rest of the world.
Restricted to a thin catwalk through a cave deep inside a mountain, a skeleton crew and minimal light, he does just that: capture the space, the texture, the quality of color of these ghost-like paintings, like shadows of the past captured on the cave walls. He communicates a sense of awe and wonder without any contrived dramatics and between visits to the paintings he profiles the scientists, archeologists, historians and technicians who have also been granted access, and as usual finds great stories in these individuals.
The film was originally shot and presented in theaters in 3D (and with this one film justified the technology) and it is available on Blu-ray 3D (which requires 3D compatible players and monitors) as well as standard DVD and Blu-ray editions. All editions feature the 39-minute documentary short “Ode to the Dawn of Man,” which profiles the creation of the score.