Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Synopsis: In 1994, a group of scientists discovered a cave in Southern France perfectly preserved for over 20,000 years and containing the earliest known human paintings. Knowing the cultural significance that the Chauvet Cave holds, the French government immediately cut-off all access to it, save a few archaeologists and paleontologists. But documentary filmmaker, Werner Herzog, has been given limited access, and now we get to go inside examining beautiful artwork created by our ancient ancestors around 32,000 years ago. He asks questions to various historians and scientists about what these humans would have been like and trying to build a bridge from the past to the present.
Director(s): Werner Herzog
Production: IFC Films
  11 wins & 20 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
90 min

They look like

they might have been made

We are coming here to one of

the great spots of the cave,

which is the famous panel

of the horses.

It is of the... - one of the size

of a small recess.

And this small hole there

is where water comes out,


after there's been

something like a week of rain.

And that probably explains

why all those animals

were painted around that hole.

It's one of the great works

of art in the world.

For these Paleolithic painters,

the play of light and shadows

from their torches

could possibly have looked

something like this.

For them, the animals perhaps

appeared moving, living.

We should note that the artists

painted this bison

with eight legs,

suggesting movement,

almost a form of proto-cinema.

The walls themselves

are not flat

but have their own

three-dimensional dynamic,

their own movement, which was

utilized by the artists.

In the upper left corner,

another multilegged animal.

And the rhino to the right

seems also to have

the illusion of movement,

like frames

in an animated film.

The painters of the cave

seem to speak to us

from a familiar

yet distant universe.

But what we are seeing here

is part of millions

of spatial points.

Today scientists have mapped

every single millimeter

of the cave

using laser scanners.

The position of every feature

in the cave is known.

This is the shape of the cave

in its entirety.

From end to end,

it is about 1,300 feet long.

This map is the basis

for all scientific projects

being done here.

- We are working to create

new understanding of the cave

through that precision,

through scientific methods,

but that's not, I think,

the main goal.

The main goal

is to create stories

about what could have happened

in that cave during the past.

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Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog (German: [ˈvɛɐ̯nɐ ˈhɛɐ̯tsoːk]; born 5 September 1942) is a German screenwriter, film director, author, actor, and opera director. Herzog is a figure of the New German Cinema, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Schröter, and Wim Wenders. Herzog's films often feature ambitious protagonists with impossible dreams, people with unique talents in obscure fields, or individuals who are in conflict with nature.French filmmaker François Truffaut once called Herzog "the most important film director alive." American film critic Roger Ebert said that Herzog "has never created a single film that is compromised, shameful, made for pragmatic reasons, or uninteresting. Even his failures are spectacular." He was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine in 2009. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018


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"Cave of Forgotten Dreams" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 8 Aug. 2020. <>.

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