(Four prehistoric horses at Chauvet.Image found here.)
Roughly 31,000 years ago people made animal paintings in a cave in southern France. Some 5,000 years later (think of that for a second. 5,000 years later), more paintings were added to the cave walls, in at least one case superimposed over an older one. When a landslide covered the entrance, the cave was sealed and remained so until its rediscovery in 1994.
The Werner Herzog film Cave of Forgotten Dreams is playing at my local cinema in 3D. The film is wonderful. The 3D experience, not so much this time. We were given heavy, thick-framed 3D glasses which I had never seen before — they were uncomfortable to begin with and almost painful toward the end of the film. Also, for some reason (hand-held camera work? Zooming? Flickering light in the cave? The small theater?) much of the film was hard on the eyes. I don’t mean to whine about this but it did take away a lot of the joy of seeing these beautiful and stunning pictures. I am hoping this was not everyone’s experience, because the film really is worth seeing in 3D (but not necessary.)
For more information about the cave, and a taste of the paintings, you can visit the Chauvet Cave’s website (in English).