I saw Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” last night. It is about a cavern called “Chauvet”, in which, 30,000 years ago, men adorned the walls with astonishing paintings. Horses gambol, rhinos duel, mammoths stride, and lions mate on the walls of the cave.
Apparently, no humans lived in the cave, which was inhabited (often) by giant cave bears. The area around Pont du Guard was glacial in that ice age era, and giant beasts shared the environment with humans, some of whom were among the most talented painters the world has ever known. Why did they come to these caverns and paint the images? Nobody knows.
The images – especially those of the horses – are stunning. They would be comfortable hanging on the walls of the Louvre next to paintings by Picasso or Titian. Here are some stills (which don’t really do justice to the paintings, compared to the 3D images in the film):
Don’t miss this movie. As the camera descends into the cave, gyrating and disorienting the viewer, a new world, 30,000 years old, reveals itself.
A lot has changed in 30,000 years. We humans have advanced our knowledge and our technology. But our skill in painting and drawing hasn’t advanced. 30,000 years ago it was as evocative as it is today – as these paintings demonstrate.