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France’s Chauvet Cave is home to the oldest art work known to man. Discovered in 1994, Chauvet’s cave paintings have been dated at 32,000 years ago, making them roughly twice as old as the renowned cave art at Lascaux. Access to both caves has been restricted for years — even the breath of humans can damage the paintings. Fortunately for all of us, legendary film director Werner Herzog was recently given the chance to fully document the wonders of Chauvet. His new film Cave of Forgotten Dreams captures the charcoal etchings of unknown ancient artists. The drawings of animals (bison and mammoth among them) are especially alive, supple, and seemingly drawn only yesterday.

Here’s a short film clip on Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams:

Early in the process, Werner Herzog made the decision to film Chauvet Cave in 3-D:

Once you see the cave with your own eyes, you realize it had to be filmed in 3-D. I’ve never used the process in the 58 films I made before and I have no plans to do it ever again, but it was important to capture the intentions of the painters. Once you saw the crazy niches and bulges and rock pendants in the walls, it was obvious it had to be in 3-D.”

Until Cave of Forgotten Dreams plays in your area, here’s a few more excellent resources from the Land Library’s shelves!

Return to Chauvet Cave: Excavating the Birthplace of Art by Jean Clottes, Dawn of Art: The Chauvet Cave by Jean-Marie Chauvet, et. al.

cave paintersstepping stonescambridge
The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World’s First Artists by Gregory Curtis, Stepping-Stones: A Journey through the Ice Age Caves of the Dordogne by Christine Desdemaines-Hugon, Cambridge Illustrated History of Prehistoric Art by Paul G. Bahn, et. al.

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