"One star for the 3D visual experience, zero stars for the content. It is a truly amazing experience to have the brief glimpse into some of what was going on in the human mind some 30 – 40 thousand years ago. The 3D experience is as close we will ever get, since these caves are accessed only by a privileged few. Herzog and his crew had that privilege for a few hours or so. Conveniently for them, an elaborate metal pathway was already constructed, so elaborate in fact, that the workers went into the trouble of shaping the pathway around some of the stalagmites, and so one has to assume that these workers had a greater privilege yet, as this sure must had taken days to construct. The cave paintings not only leave us in awe, but they also leave us with questions, questions about our own nature and how it all began. This is where we get to the disappointing part of the movie. Not that we should expect any of these questions to be answered, but one would hope for some interesting information, something that the lucky scientist and historians have figured out already. But, all we really get is just a parade of circus scientists. I choose the word circus, not only because one of the “scientist/historian” had circus training, but it really wasn’t much more than that. Herzog’s seemingly Attenborough-like narrative, is disappointingly short on the Attenborough-like informative power. His choice of selecting imperial measurements units (miles, feet) in his narrative also reminds us, who helped to finance this project - US History Channel.
Beyond the awe expressed by everyone participating in the production, what kind of interesting information do we get ? Well, we have our circus scientist who leaves us with a magical conclusion that we are best to interpret these painting as the work of the spirits. Another scientist is so taken aback that he even proposes to rename our species from homo sapiens to homo religious. The evidence for that ? Well, I did not see it - they showed it to us from a limited angle and it required a lot of imagination, but apparently among all the paintings of animals they also found one that kinda resembles a half Venus figurine, half bison.
Then, we have a guy/scientist dressed in deer skin who “whistles” for us, through a replica of a caveman’s flute, the Star Spangled Banner tune, wow. I’m saying whistles, because the melody seemed to have been produced before it entered the flute. We also have another scientist who throws a spear, several times in fact, and then, himself, concludes he would have no chance in life of killing anything. And, to amaze us even more, we have a perfume maker who goes around these caves and smells them. From his acute sense of smell (he is well in his 60s) he then recreates (in his mind) what it would have been like to be one of the cave painters, 30 thousand years ago (in the time of the last Ice Age). Mr. Herzog then concludes this circus parade with a global warming commentary, looking at the cave paintings through the eyes of an albino crocodile - this is not a joke. One might laugh about it, but it left me seriously worried about my human heritage and the people I have to rely on to access it and to study it. What a shame."