Much has been said about Herzog the man over Herzog the director. He's just too damned interesting not to notice whenever he opts to make a documentary. Ever since Grizzly Man came out in 2005, the notoriously deadpan filmmaker has developed a devoted American audience that seems to relish watching him interact with his documentary subjects as opposed to the actual documentary subject itself.
For most people who have been forced to take an Art History 101 class, the Chauvet Cave is the first thing you learn about. Its intricate paintings of animals of every variety--created nearly 30,000 years ago--almost puts modern artists to shame. Herzog's methods for making history "fun" are not all that divergent from how he usually goes about documentary filmmaking. That is to say, he hones in on one or two interviewees and subtly belittles them, greatly contributing to the humor value of the movie (e.g. a juggler turned archaeologist that Herzog has a playful rapport with). Seeing Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3D also helps give it a greater entertainment value. Add a pinch of ganja to your popcorn and you're in for the most entertaining movie of the year.
As for the person responsible for drawing the legendary artwork in the cave, scientists and archaeologists have pinpointed two very specific characteristics: The man was six feet tall and had a crooked pinkie. If only this primordial man could now how obsessed future generations would become with finding out his identity. He might not have been as comfortable leaving traces of himself behind.
Herzog's interest in filming the inside of the cave sprung from reading an article in The New Yorker called "Letter From Southern France: First Impressions." The article, written by Judith Thurman (one of the executive producers of the film), discusses how eerily advanced the drawings in the cave are. How the concept of perspective and movement--artistic principles that were not reintroduced until centuries later--are finely tuned and expertly conceived throughout the walls of the cave.
As the film draws to a languorous finale, Herzog, as is his way, catches us completely off guard with the closing scene: A biosphere of albino alligators populating the area surrounding the Chauvet Cave. Paired with Herzog's narration, this unexpected bookend to the story will leave you feeling both gawky and ennobled.