I don’t remember why I asked for a DVD of The Cave of Forgotten Dreams from the library. I had to get it through InterLibrary Loan so it took awhile. I have a vague memory of seeing something recently about cave art so that is probably it, but I’m not sure I’ll ever remember for sure.
It was captivating to see the cave art (from the Chauvet Cave in southern France) – the public is not allowed in the caves so it felt a little like getting away with something although the scientists and camera crew did have permission.
The film got weird in a few places, a little disconnected and then at the end it got REALLY weird. In a “postscript”, the film introduces a nuclear power near the caves and then continues to show the crocodiles who have been added to the warm waters of the plant. Not only that, but some albino crocodiles became the final focus with the film clearly suggesting that they are mutants from radiated water. This, of course, captured my interest in a big way. First off, they weren’t crocodiles, they were alligators – classic u-shaped alligator snouts. But more importantly, why in heaven’s sake would a nuclear power plant build a crocodile farm?
Of course all my questions were answered when I actually looked up at the screen just in time to see “Written, Directed and Narrated by Werner Herzog”. I don’t know a lot about Herzog but I have seen enough comments over the years to know that he doesn’t use the same definition of “truth” that I do. This made it incredibly easy to fact-check the crocodile farm story. The power plant did NOT build the croc farm; it was built by two crocodile enthusiasts. They are close to the cave and they do use the water from the nuclear power plant but the water is consistently tested and has never shown any radioactivity. And the albinos? Imported from a croc farm in the Southern U.S.; they were albino before they even reached the French waters. Not radioactive mutants. None of this really explains the purpose of the postscript of the film, but it was interesting research.
The most noteworthy fact I found is that the French croc farm is not the only place on the planet where crocodiles are benefitting from nuclear waters. Apparently 25% of the crocodiles in the U.S. thrive among the cooling canals at Turkey Point Nuclear Plant south of Miami. They are protected, having been encouraged there since the discovery of the first nest back in the 70s. Fascinating.
Have you ever held a baby alligator or crocodile in your hands? Snake? Tarantula? Anything?