This article is from
Creation 37(2):50–51, April 2015

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Movie-making an off-the-wall idea


wikimedia.org paintings-from-the-Chauvet-cave
Images such as these in the Chauvet Cave in southern France caught the attention of researchers.

Fred Flintstone1 may have been able to go to the movies after all if researchers are right in their observations that so-called Stone-Age man used animation effects.

Cave paintings that archaeologist Marc Azéma, of the University of Toulouse–Le Mirail in France, and artist Florent Rivère studied are a fascinating insight into the technical knowledge ancient man possessed.

The cave paintings can be no older than the global Flood, which occurred only around 4,500 years ago, and in fact are likely to be much younger than that,2 despite being given a 30,000-year timeframe.

They say ancient man drew multiple images of the same animal with what they described as cartoon–like techniques to create the effect of movement across cave walls. The cinematic effects were revealed by the flickering light of burning torches.3

“Lascaux is the cave with the greatest number of cases of split-action movement by superimposition of successive images. Some 20 animals, principally horses, have the head, legs or tail multiplied,’’ Azéma said.3

As well, the researchers discovered an optical toy similar to thaumatropes that became popular in the 19th century. A thaumatrope is a disk or card with different designs on both sides which, when twirled, ‘blends’ the images to give the appearance of movement. An example the researchers gave was of a bone disc, originally found in 1868, which on one side features a standing doe or a chamois. On the other side, the animal is lying down.3

commons.wikimedia.org lions-painting-Chauvet-cave
A reproduction of lions painted in the Chauvet Cave.

These techniques, of course, are seen as a precursor to modern cinematography. Most of us take it for granted these days but many people can still remember when ‘moving pictures’ were restricted to cinema screens. Now events are televised and broadcast live throughout the world and we can even take videos on our phones and replay them immediately.

It is no surprise that ancient man was experimenting and developing ‘movie’ techniques because he was endowed with creative intelligence by the Creator God. He was intelligent, resourceful, and industrious which fits the biblical picture beautifully.4

So embrace the technology that allows you to enjoy ‘moving pictures’ from a comfortable chair. And spare a thought for some of Noah’s post-Babel descendants who sat on the ground in caves around a flickering fire looking at drawings on the wall.

Posted on homepage: 31 October 2016

References and notes

  1. Fred Flintstone was the main character of a humorous American television cartoon series called The Flintstones which was set in the so-called Stone Age. It first aired in 1960. See imdb.com for more. Return to text.
  2. Silvestru, E., Caves for all seasons, Creation 25(3):44–49, 2003; creation.com/all-seasons. Return to text.
  3. Lorenzi, R., Stoneage Artists Created Prehistoric Movies, news.discovery.com, 8 June 2012. Return to text.
  4. Carter, R.W., The Painted Neandertal, 20 May 2010, creation.com/neander-painted. Return to text.

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