Cave of Forgotten Dreams

  • Werner Herzog
  • United States
  • 2010
  • 90 min
  • Dutch Premiere
  • Masters
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The German Werner Herzog was the very first filmmaker to get permission to film in the Chauvet Cave in the south of France. After being closed off for 20,000 years, the oldest known paintings were discovered there in 1994. Breathtaking drawings of animals from 32,000 years ago, twice as old as the ones in the famous Lascaux Cave. With the very newest equipment, including special 3D cameras adapted for the circumstances, Herzog enters the Chauvet. The 3D effect doesn't only help capture the spatiality of the caves, but it also shows how prehistoric artists incorporated the curves of the rock face into their drawings. In the special atmosphere of the caves, where people are only allowed in for a few hours at a time, the drawings have remained unbelievably fresh and clear, with strong black and subtle gray tints. The caves provide a new challenge for Herzog, a filmmaker with a predilection for inhospitable and uneasily accessible shooting locations, from the desert to the South Pole. As always, Herzog zooms in on humanity. He philosophizes about how the drawings might have been a "form of proto-cinema" for the cave dwellers, thanks to the flickering light of flares and the stripes found in several of the drawings that would seem to suggest motion, and he gets absorbed in the stories of speleologists and a few remarkable local residents.


  • 90 min
  • color
  • DCP
Werner Herzog
Erik Nelson for Creative Differences, Adrienne Ciuffo for Creative Differences
Executive producer
Dave Harding for Creative Differences, Julian P. Hobbs for History Films, David McKillop for History Films, Molly Thompson for History Films
Peter Zeitlinger
John Bini, Maya Hawke
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