Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)

G  |   |  Documentary, History  |  31 August 2011 (France)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 10,212 users   Metascore: 86/100
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Werner Herzog gains exclusive access to film inside the Chauvet caves of Southern France and captures the oldest known pictorial creations of humanity.



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Credited cast:
Himself / Narrator
Jean Clottes ...
Julien Monney ...
Jean-Michel Geneste ...
Michel Philippe ...
Gilles Tosello ...
Carole Fritz ...
Dominique Baffier ...
Valerie Feruglio ...
Nicholas Conard ...
Maria Malina ...
Wulf Hein ...
Maurice Maurin ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Valerie Milenka Repnau ...


In 1994, a group of scientists discovered a cave in Southern France perfectly preserved for over 20,000 years and containing the earliest known human paintings. Knowing the cultural significance that the Chauvet Cave holds, the French government immediately cut-off all access to it, save a few archaeologists and paleontologists. But documentary filmmaker, Werner Herzog, has been given limited access, and now we get to go inside examining beautiful artwork created by our ancient ancestors around 32,000 years ago. He asks questions to various historians and scientists about what these humans would have been like and trying to build a bridge from the past to the present. Written by napierslogs

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Release Date:

31 August 2011 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Cave of Forgotten Dreams  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$139,101 (USA) (29 April 2011)


$5,234,785 (USA) (19 August 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The highest-grossing independently released documentary of the year 2011 in the USA. See more »


Werner Herzog: The artist painted this bison with eight legs, suggesting movement - almost a form of proto-cinema.
See more »


Referenced in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.16 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

The Transmission of Imagination
15 May 2011 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

The key scene in Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams comes when he is interviewing a young archaeologist. The archaeologist is part of a research team investigating a cave in France known to have the oldest cave art done by humans. The man says that after he saw the lifelike and almost modern looking animal paintings done 32,000 years ago, he dreamt about the animals coming to life and also on the walls. This then is how imagination and something like the soul get from there to here: from early man tens of thousands of years ago to modern man in the 21st century.

The early cave painters probably dreamed of the animals they saw on the land, and then from those dreams and observations they painted them. We dream about our own lives, but the representations of life and everything that we have produced as the human race--books, plays, novels, sculpture, music, architecture, painting, movies--had their analogue in this cave. Here then is also the beginnings of art. Makes you wonder how people thousands of years from now will see us. Will they take a look at our pop culture, our Glees and blockbuster superhero movies and think we were like that? Besides being a spiritual experience, this movie is an elegy for real art and real nature that defines us, and that in this very commercial age, we are slowly or rapidly losing.

13 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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