The movie centers around Chauvet Cave which houses the oldest (and incredibly well-preserved) cave paintings in the known world. It is closed to the public for preservation--thus, this may be the only video footage filmed.
The drawings themselves are incredible, and lent extra-realistic portrayal via the 3-D viewing, as many are painted on undulating cave walls that play into the movement and look of the drawings. This was my first 3-D movie (as long as you don't count amusement parks...like the ridiculous cyberpunk psychedelia of indoor rollercoaster CHAOS...Opryland's finest), and it took me a good 30 minutes to reach a point where I felt like my eyes weren't constantly swimming for adjustment.
Herzog's warmth and humanity are evident as ever in many of the interviews, in which he manages to mine character and compassion from a range of scientists, academics, and cave-seekers. Vibrant personality exists everywhere, and Herzog is adept as ever in exposing it; from a pathetic attempt at spear-throwing, to a scientist's circus past, to the bone-flute-stylings of an experimental archaeologist named...Wulf.
The strongest aspect of the whole movie though, is Herzog's use of the cave to rend the space-time fabric that separates us from our distant ancestors, a gulf that often seems infinite in its breadth. Even considering the vastness of time & space with the added bonus of an understandable context (art!) is intimidating. Without context, in my personal experience, thinking about such distant connections is an impossibility.
Wulf and Werner.
The connections to our past are strong, and emotional, throughout the movie. The wall of handprints in red; the sprayed outline of the same hand; with silence and blinding flashlights as a backdrop (add in the stunning score or reverberating heartbeats) these are stunningly heavy revelations. When Herzog mentions the footprint of a child and a wolf side-by-side, not knowing whether they came in together, or thousands of years apart, the point is hammered home. Time as we perceive it is swift; the usual metaphor being a river. But it comes across here as more of a glacier, inching forwards inevitably, leaving chasms that can be crossed mentally, but rarely physically. This cave, this movie, is one of those rare chances. Seize it.