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Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Werner Herzog’s fascinating look at the world’s oldest known paintings (Netflix)

Alissa Wilkinson covers film and culture for Vox. Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Werner Herzog takes us inside the Chauvet Cave in France, now closed to public view, to see some of the world’s oldest works of art: cave paintings that date back about 32,000 years. Eschewing the purely educational approach, Herzog opts to prioritize his unbridled —and contagious — awe. Interviews with scientists and historians provide context, but the camera lingers on the artwork itself, focusing on the intricacy and beauty of the paintings and conveying a palpable, inspiring sense of wonder.

”If you’re interested in the history of the human race — if you’re a member of the human race — you owe it to yourself to see this movie.” Dana Stevens, Slate

Release date: April 29, 2011

Streaming on: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play

Metacritic score: 86 out of 100