Cave of Forgotten Dreams

When the Chauvet Cave was discovered in southern France in 1994, it was rightly realised as perhaps the most significant site of prehistoric art the modern world has ever seen. The lone filmmaker permitted access to this Paleolithic Aladdin’s den? Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World).

With characteristic receptivity to the absurd (at one point he suggests an ancient fertility effigy might prefigure the women of Baywatch), he burrows further still into that grand question that’s long informed his most interesting work: what exactly makes us human? This time, his conjecture comes backed by some astonishing evidence, offered down the eons by the cave itself.

Peopled by a gallery of specialists and misfits (you won’t soon forget the ‘experimental archaeologist’, who speaks to camera clad in reindeer pelt), Cave of Forgotten Dreams finds Herzog at his most wide-eyed and awe-struck. Seek it out.

Gerard Elson works at Readings St Kilda.