Fans of Jean M. Auel‘s Earth’s Children series have been captivated by her depiction of prehistoric life for over 20 years, recently culminating in the final book, The Land of Painted Caves. The series’ immense wealth of research is what makes it so special, as only Auel has been able to depict the lives of early peoples in such a profoundly tangible way.
As much as I loved the otherworldly sensation of picturing Ayla’s world in my little brain, there is a way to experience Auel’s most recent book to an extent I had not expected. Film director Werner Herzog recently released a 3D documentary featuring the recently discovered Chauvet caves in the South of France and their cave paintings, dating back 32,000 years. Anyone who has seen the sheer length of Auel’s books knows they are packed to the brim with information, but nothing prepared me for the real thing.
Check out the Cave of Forgotten Dreams trailer:
I found myself swept back into Ayla’s world as I saw cave bear skulls, cave lion drawings and spear throwers. The 3D and Herzog’s direction revealed a side of the paintings I never could have conjured — they seem to move. As much as Ayla felt an immense connection to her painter ancestors, I felt something quite similar — and so do those who have been to the cave in real life.
What most interested me (besides the incredible detail of the paintings) is how Herzog sought a story for the people who decorated Chauvet and how Auel had already provided me with one.
What do you think? Do you prefer to keep your books and your movies separate?
What do you think of Herzog’s 3D documentary? Does it add or take away from Auel’s stories?