User Score
6.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 44 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 44
  2. Negative: 5 out of 44
Watch On

Review this movie

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling
  1. May 19, 2011
    9
    An incredible film. It doesn't get a perfect score from me because of the relative zaniness of the 'Postscript', but it's the best use of 3D since Avatar. Truly awe-inspiring to see such unspoiled cave panels with art work created 35 - 40,000 years ago. To think that humans were thinking, dreaming, and creating like we do that long ago is immense. It stuck with me for a full day afterAn incredible film. It doesn't get a perfect score from me because of the relative zaniness of the 'Postscript', but it's the best use of 3D since Avatar. Truly awe-inspiring to see such unspoiled cave panels with art work created 35 - 40,000 years ago. To think that humans were thinking, dreaming, and creating like we do that long ago is immense. It stuck with me for a full day after seeing it... Expand
  2. Nov 17, 2012
    9
    Ah, yes. 3D movies. Leave it to acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog, master of such cinematic spectacles as Fitzcarraldo and Rescue Dawn, as well as somber, meditative pieces like Strozek and Grizzly Man, to find the true potential of the third dimension. Granted unprecedented (yet still severely limited) access to the famous Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave in southern France, which contains theAh, yes. 3D movies. Leave it to acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog, master of such cinematic spectacles as Fitzcarraldo and Rescue Dawn, as well as somber, meditative pieces like Strozek and Grizzly Man, to find the true potential of the third dimension. Granted unprecedented (yet still severely limited) access to the famous Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave in southern France, which contains the oldest cave paintings to have been discovered to date and have only been seen by select members of the scientific and archeological field, Herzog uses a 3-D camera to invite the audience to see what he himself saw, to witness every crack and crevice in the wall, and to feel the urge to reach out and touch what hasn Expand
  3. Jan 3, 2013
    10
    Yet another inspired talk-o-mentary by master Herzog. This time about a 32 000-year window into the past of our ancestors. Like nothing out there. The footage itself musto be on its way to the UNESCO. Must-see.
  4. May 17, 2011
    10
    More than 30,000 years ago, our human ancestors entered the Chauvet Cave in southern France and, for reasons unknown but pondered about for millennia, they created cave paintings. These are the oldest known paintings to exist. The pictures depict magnificent animals, including lions, horses, rhinos, and extinct cave bears and panthers. The soft cave floor is littered with bones (100% ofMore than 30,000 years ago, our human ancestors entered the Chauvet Cave in southern France and, for reasons unknown but pondered about for millennia, they created cave paintings. These are the oldest known paintings to exist. The pictures depict magnificent animals, including lions, horses, rhinos, and extinct cave bears and panthers. The soft cave floor is littered with bones (100% of them are from animals) including many well preserved skulls of the extinct cave bear which would have spent much time in such caves. Beautiful patterns have emerged after thousands of years of slow dripping water and the ambiance is only enhanced by the drastic shift from large chambers with high ceilings to tight spaces with almost no room to move. The cave was first explored in 1994 and due to the fact that it had been sealed by a long ago rock collapse, it was most likely the first time in over 20,000 years anyone had entered the cave.

    Werner Herzog has a distinct style, and anyone who has seen some of his films will recognize immediately that this is a Herzog film. As in a favorite film of mine, Grizzly Man, he uses wonderful shots of his subject spliced with entertaining interviews by key figures. He expounds upon the bigger questions such as 'why' did people draw these and what could it have meant in a broader scheme of humanity. Experts are interviewed in various fields of science and the humanities who all bring unique perspectives to the subject matter. There are wonderful asides that touch on similar cave findings, such as bone fragments turned into flute-like instruments, signaling the importance of not just art but music to people throughout time. Anecdotes about the history of the region including the large glaciers which covered the area before melting add a nice touch.

    Herzog and his team were hindered greatly by the French government (justifiably) who would only allow filming under the most strict guidelines. Just a crew of 4, shooting for 4 hours per day, for just one week and they were only allowed a few small, battery run lights, all the while confined 100% of the time to a small, 2 foot wide walkway built throughout the cave which no one is allowed to leave for fear of tampering with the well preserved cave. Herzog filmed in 3D which, for the first time in my life, I can say was absolutely the perfect solution to portraying the amazing cave in its entirety. The paintings are made throughout the cave on contoured walls which, it would seem, were purposely put there so as to add to the dimensions and the storytelling of the paintings. Herzog draws a wonderful parallel to what it must have looked like by torchlight 30,000 years ago. There is even evidence that some of the paintings have etchings around them to create depth. Several paintings are drawn with multiple legs and horns, clearly attempting to depict movement among the animals. There is a unique piece of wall covered in red hand prints. Interestingly, there is a distinct defect in the print of the little finger on one of the hands, and this hand can be traced to multiple red hand prints throughout the cave, meaning the team is able to trace the path of a single individual from so many thousands of years ago.

    One of the most interesting aspects of the film comes from an area of the cave which cannot be fully seen from the walkway. A partial view of one of only 2 paintings in the cave which depict some form of the human body. It appears to be the lower body of a woman with the head of a bullish creature. Herzog is eventually allowed to place a camera on a long crane to get a better view. It is not so much the shot of the painting that is astounding as is the questions that are raised by such figures. What were our ancestors thinking when they drew these paintings of animals, and more specifically, when they drew this painting of half woman half beast? What did they believe about the world and why were they so interested in recording visually what they saw around them? This is a beautiful film and one enhanced largely via 3D technology.
    Expand
  5. Oct 2, 2011
    10
    I was breathless at some of the sights in this movie...it was a 3D screening and, in addition to my 3d glasses, I admit I had a few glasses of wine before...but this is more gold from Herzog. It seemed the theatre was taking on a whole new purpose as we were all transported and given access to the cave via his vision. Thank you!
  6. Jun 30, 2011
    9
    I saw this movie in 2D and its the first time I wished for 3D. The cave paintings are stunning and so overwhelming that this movie gets a 9. Unfortunately, Herzog gets in the way with his obtuse commentary and heavy handed "postscript." The music is also a bit off-putting, but really...go see this movie for the cave paintings. You will likely never see anything like it again.
Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. 88
    It is our tour guide that makes Cave of Forgotten Dreams an often thrilling experience. His producer, Erik Nelson, has joked Herzog is the first filmmaker to use 3-D for good, instead of evil. There is no question that the technology enhances our visit, giving perspective and shape to the jagged Chauvet Cave – an open mouth the size of a football field.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Jun 5, 2011
    88
    If you're looking for a filmmaker to document, for all of humanity, "one of the greatest discoveries in the history of human culture," the great Werner Herzog is your guy.
  3. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    May 19, 2011
    88
    He (Herzog) emerged with a breathtaking tour of art that, in its formal sophistication, dynamism and rhythmic lines, looks as bold and new as Cezanne's work must have looked in the 1860s.