Synopsis by Nathan Southern
In 1994, one of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries of the decade came to light in a cave in Southern France, known as the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc: etchings estimated at around 30,000 years old. The date of origin made these some of the oldest remnants of humankind ever discovered. Unsurprisingly, these artistic remnants bore a precious fragility -- experts asserted that overexposure, even to elements as seemingly harmless as human breath, could severely damage or destroy the drawings. For that reason, few obtained access to this area. One exception arrived in the form of maverick German filmmaker Werner Herzog, who not only obtained permission to film (with lights that emit no heat) but did so in 3D -- a process that enabled him to convey the textured surfaces on which the figures are drawn, as well as the shape and depth of the cave's stalagmites and other structures. This astonishing 3D documentary not only provides exquisite visual detail of the cave (as Herzog explores it) but uses the visuals as a springboard to broader philosophical questions about the nature of humanity itself and the transience of humankind.