Oh Boy!! as I put my hands on the keyboard to write something about this documentary, I just have a strange feeling that it may be one of those documentaries which like our school or college text books was above of any review, praise or for that matter critisism. I almost feel hysteric to share my thoughts about this documentary which transported me back 30,000 years in time. As I gulped through the images and the narraion, I dreamt almost all the way down to the days when the cave paintings were being made. I could so-relate the visuals with an endearing Animation movie Ice Age and at some point of time I even felt a tad sentimental. Thats the power of this feature.
Before I go any further with this review, lets just take a brief look at what this cave actually is. According to wikipedia.org, the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave is a cave in the Ardèche department of southern France that contains the earliest known cave paintings, as well as other evidence of Upper Paleolithic life. It is located near the commune of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc on a limestone cliff above the former bed of the Ardèche River. Discovered on December 18th, 1994, it is considered one of the most significant prehistoric art sites. The cave was first explored by a group of three speleologists: Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, Christian Hillaire, and Jean-Marie Chauvet, for whom it was named. Chauvet (1996) has a detailed account of the discovery. On top of the paintings and other human evidence they also discovered fossilized remains, prints, and markings from a variety of animals, some of which are now extinct. Further study by French archaeologist Jean Clottes has revealed much about the site, though the dating has been the matter of some dispute.
So when Warner Herzog decided to make a documentary or for that matter a 3D documentary, he had his hand full. The feature first shows us the cae through the eyes of a bunch of scientists who go along a ong way to describe the various details of the drawings, markings and finds. This gives the us the basic idea of what we are actually seeing and then Herzog revisists the cave again towards the end of the feature and we have just a beautiful background score playing at the back and no naration as if he as letting us dwell deep into a dream worls which mother nature herself has frozen for us in this eternal abode. The team was severaly restricted in carrying out the shooting for obvious reasons and they had only six days of four hours each, in which to capture the colossal cave system. If my words are to be taken, I guess they have done a stupendious job. The feature not only enlightens, but also entertains. One could view it again and again and everytime slip into a drreamy worls full of mamoths, tigers, bisons, deer and also humans. A world which we have only seen in our dreams.
One striking aspect that comes out of this feature is the fact, that humans were spiritual beings even 30,000 years ago. some artifacts of the cave draw attention to that very fact and this has led one of the proffesors to quote that humans are better off called HOMO-SPIRITUALIS than HOMO -SAPIENS. There is a place in the cave where one can find the footstep of a wolf and a boy side by side. The question that one could ask was wheather the wofl was stalking the boy??? or was it that we were friends??? or was it the fact that the footprints were thousands of years apart from each other!!!! theer are many such sensational discoveries which remains locked in the history and they will be, but each of us would settle for a suitable answer of our own wont we?????. Werner Herzog successfully transports us into this realm and that is beyond a doubt a magnificient achievement.
I would thank him from my heart for making such a sparkling documentary as lesser men like us would never see these cave painting as we might never travel abroad or for that matter get the permission of the french government to view the last remains of the oldest human art. Thanks a ton mate…!!!!!