Last week, my husband and I watched Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Unfortunately, we were never able to see it in 3D when it was in theaters. But even the normal DVD version was beautiful and amazing. Even though Werner Herzog is a bit weird and added some tongue-in-cheek conjecture at the end, he managed to convey the amazing majesty of this cave.
Watching the film it struck me anew how important art, music, and storytelling has always been for humans. While we’ll never know why these prehistoric people drew these images; what their stories, myths, and ceremonies were; or what their music sounded like, we can still appreciate that they found it important enough to make time in their lives for.
These days it seems art, music, and storytelling are seen as frivolous, something that wastes time that could/should be spent making money. They’re seen as pursuits that should be confined to early childhood or that only people who can’t cut it in the “real world” choose to do these things. But this film shows that it has always been something that humans have made time for.
These were people who lived in an incredibly hostile environment. They were surrounded by predators, lived during an ice age, and had to spend most of their time finding (and preparing) food, protecting themselves, and making tools, clothes and other essentials without the benefit of metal. Yet they still made time for art.
Maybe this film can teach us more than just a history lesson. Maybe we can learn from these early people that the arts are integral to what makes us human. We need to remember the value that they hold for all of us and continue to nurture and develop them.