In November of 2009 I had the memorable and fascinating adventure of visiting the caves of Cantabria, Altamira Covalanas and Castillo in Northern Spain. One has to believe in a superior presence when embraced by paintings done thousands of years ago; man’s artistic aesthetic began with the creation of Adam and Eve.
With massive anticipation I went to see Werner Herzog’s documentary on the Chauvet cave discovered by three scientists in Southern France, 1994. “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” is so marvelous, incredulous, serenely sublime, I cried and thanked the power of man and God for this experience. This supreme shrine to the oldest of Paleolithic sites, approximately 35,000 years ago, is a miraculous technological feat. Filmed in 3-D the viewer is guided quietly, inspirationally through 1300 feet of magical wizardly; this cave buried for thousands of years, protected by traumatic shifts in the landscape is pristine; the paintings so fresh they could have been done today. The kingdom they depict: galloping horses, fighting rhinos, cave bears, bovine bison, anthropomorphic pairing of a woman and animal. Pulsating motion, eerily predicting Eadweard Muybridge’s (1830-1904) stop action photography.
Scientists, archaeologists, primarily Herzog explain with reverence the details of this miraculous discovery; the approximate height of the artist (6 feet), his artistic tools, weather conditions of the age, the weapons of survival. Mr. Herzog and his limited team of three accomplished this astonishing footage, working 4 hours a day over a 6 day period, never stepping off the two-foot- wide metal walkway that sinuously snakes through the cave. This is wonderment, titillating, enchanting entertainment, thrilling to one’s intellectual, imaginative core.
A.W. Tozer states ‘what comes into our minds when we think about God, is the most important thing about us”; throughout “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”, dreams unearthed, masterpieces left by an unknown artist, a beatific vision of a life lived, a monument, tombstone, now celebrated almost 40,000 years later; the embryo, source undefined, but emphatically divine.
Thank you Werner Herzog for making it possible to visit this true treasure without destroying it with our breath and need to put it on phone cards and umbrellas.I read in the Times that this artist used sfumato millenia before Da Vinci. May it stay forever. I look forward to crying as well.
Brilliant observation, and correct! Mold is being formed in so many of the caves open to visitors! Thank You, P.
I cannot wait to see this movie, “P”; have been to many of the caves in France and Spain and the experience is one that you NEVER forget. Crying is what I did too, in each one that I had the pleasure of crawling/walking around in to truly sense the wonderment of this world that I was fortunate enough to visit in “real” time.
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