A few nights ago, I had the distinct pleasure to take in Werner Herzog’s latest documentary, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” at IFC. It was magical. The sophistication of technique and the paintings’ beauty can’t be disputed, but the timeline — most of these paintings were composed over 32,000 years ago — just boggles the mind. These are the earliest known paintings of humankind. To provide some perspective, the famous images at Lascaux (the other famous French cave) go back 18,000 years; Chauvet is “another Lascaux back from Lascaux.”
Some of the paintings had a space of 5,000 years in between additions. Can you even imagine that amount of time? It’s like going to the pyramids, adding your own illustration to a panel of hieroglyphics, then walking away — and it remains untouched. Imagining 500 years from now is hard to realize; I just think of Futurama.
I highly recommend this movie. Any excuse to hear Herzog’s voice is a good excuse, in my book. And make sure to check out this interview with Herzog at The Paris Review. Good stuff.