I don't know if this extraordinary film was only commisioned because it could be made in 3D, or if it only got made because of Werner, or if it needed to be 3D, or if it needed to be Werner (it *definitely* needed to be Werner) but despite going with low expectations of 90-minute 3D movie of the inside of a cave(!) I am basically just enormously grateful that this film was made at all and that I got to see it in a silent theatre filled with awe.
It is interesting that the discussion is often about the director and the medium and less about the content. Admittedly 35000 year old drawings should not make you whisper "wow" to your partner, but these do - it is hard to describe but there is something about the lions that takes the breath away - maybe the chiaroscuro - which we think of as being Renaissance, maybe it's the attention to detail, the musculature. I think more than anything it's the intimate sense of being so close to our most ancient ancestors - that the metamorphosis of stone and the transcendence to the spirit world implied by the pictures can apply to time itself and that this cave acts as a rift in which we can physically step into their time. It's crazily potent, even on celluloid.
"Werner Herzog gains exclusive access to film inside the Chauvet caves of southern France, capturing the oldest known pictorial creations of humankind in their astonishing natural setting. He puts 3-D technology to a profound use, taking us back in time over 30,000 years."
It's funny, pompous, ethereal, magical, philosophical, intriguing and truly special. It's a film about some people in a cave and it is amazing.