Cave of Forgotten Dreams movie review: Some 35,000 years ago, mysterious artists journeyed into a huge, crystal encrusted limestone cave in what is now the south of France where they painted hundreds of pictures of animals. From today's perspective, they not only created works of art but seem to have created art itself. These artists continued to produce their unique works for over 10,000 years until the collapse of a rock face sealed the cave off from humanity thus preserving the paintings in near pristine condition for hundreds of generations.
Only Werner Herzog would have thought of applying 3D technology to ancient rock walls, and, furthermore, made them more beguiling than all the galaxy's giant blue felines. Located in southern France and estimated to be more than 30,000 years old, the Chauvet Cave is, in the words of the German cine-explorer, a frozen flash of a moment of time, and possibly the cradle of humanness. As Herzog and his small crew follow a group of scientists inside, their cameras catch glimpses of vast crystal formations, sloping passageways, and miraculously pristine wall paintings, preserved like Paleolithic stained glass. Back on the surface, the director talks with an archeologist who's digitally recreating the cave and its dwellers in his computer, and asks: But do we know if they dream? Whether they cry at night? The title might apply to that other sacred altar, the movie theater, and, indeed, Herzog works in a reference to the proto-cinema of the ancient drawings of overlapping bison, suggesting the earliest roots of the art of figures moving on blank screens. Rhapsodic, eye-filling, a bit overlong but with a grand punchline involving radioactive albino crocodiles.