In 1994, three archaeologists and cave experts discovered a cave in the Ardèche region of southern France. Inside the cave was the biggest surprise to all the men, and ultimately the prehistoric art world, as the men had discovered cave paintings, as well as fossilised animal remains and prints, dated from around 32,000 years ago.
Early in 2010, film director Werner Herzog was granted permission from the French Ministry of Culture to film for 24 hours within the caves, which are closed to all but a small handful of scientists. His decision to film it in 3D is inspired, and to be honest the first time I’ve seen 3D used so well. It may have found its home in nature documentary films rather than CGI, as even the opening scenes in a vineyard made me realise how good it can be.
However, nothing prepares you for the stunning images within the caves – bison, lions, horses, all rendered in an art style more advanced than I could believe. My first impressions were that they had been faked, but radiocarbon dating from the sedimentation covering the images confirms their age.
As a chance to view these rare images, then I have to recommend you see Cave of Forgotten Dreams – however, in reality the film was more suited to an hour than ninety minutes, plus the director’s musings became rather pretentious and redundant. However, I salute him for giving us an ability to observe the paintings and the use of the shape of the walls in the art itself.