Watched May 05, 2012
Adam Cook’s review:
The Chauvet caves are home to the oldest artworks known to man and thanks to a rockslide they have been perfectly preserved for tens of thousands of years. They are a time capsule to a civilisation 35,000 years ago, a time incomprehensible to many yet through the artwork and other artefacts there is a direct connection between past and present. The artwork is astonishingly beautiful, the way the artists attempt to create motion (given animals multiple legs as if running - a form of proto-cinema as Herzog describes it) is further accentuated by the undulating contours of the caves themselves. There are even pieces of artwork 5,000 years apart that exist on the same piece of cave wall like an early form of graffiti.
Being a Werner Herzog documentary this is not just a dry academic look at the images painted in the caves but a philosophical exploration of art, what it means to humanity, and how can we comprehend what these people felt and whether or not they even dreamed at night. Herzog always stretches for the profound and at times it can come across as cod-philosophy but his musings here are charming and naive and a good counterbalance to the archeologists fact based information. The cave and the murals are awe-inspiring, not only in their beauty but the enigmatic story they have left behind, and it is this unknown that will perhaps stay with you the longest.