Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a 2001 documentary about the wonderful Chauvet cave located in Southern France. Chances are you have not heard anything about this cave but it is very important to our connection with our ancestors and a story that Werner Herzog wanted to share to people around the world.
The Chauvet cave contains the oldest known pictorial evidence of humans. They are located deep underground as the original mouth of the cave collapsed and sealed the paintings in not long after they were created more than 30,000 years ago. As a result, the cave paintings are fantastically well preserved, even looking like they could have been drawn yesterday, this is a rare opportunity for speleologists and an important site for humanity, because of that the French Government have made sure to keep the general public off the site by deploying 24 hour armed security guards.
The paintings in the Caves of Forgotten Dreams were first discovered by three speleologists, Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, Christian Hillaire, and Jean-Marie Chauvet in 1994, which is where the sites name comes from. In 1996 a full survey of the cave was completed and it was found that not only were there beautifully preserved paintings but the fossilised remains of Upper Palaeolithic people were discovered which only added to it’s scientific and humanitarian significance.
Access to the site is highly restricted and as a result, only a few teams of specialists are permitted by the French government to visit there a year. However, a perfect replica of the cave (the largest cave replica in the world) has been created so that more people can enjoy the artwork. This model is called “Faux Lascaux” and was opened in 2015.