Quest for Fire (1981)

aka La guerre du feu

Article 3653 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-31-2011
Posting Date: 8-15-2011
Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud
Featuring Everett McGill, Ron Perlman, Nicholas Kadi
Country: Canada / France / USA
What it is: Caveman movie

When a primitive tribe is attacked by an enemy, the survivors find that they cannot revive their precious fire. They send out three of their tribe on a quest to find some fire and bring it back to them.

This isn’t the first or only caveman movie with an invented language, but I think this is the one that works best. By choosing a storyline that is appropriate and easy to follow, it makes it unnecessary to try to figure out the various languages, and by casting interesting-looking actors with expressive faces, much of the story is told without really having to use the languages. The primitive world is brutal and deadly, but the movie never feels exploitative, and there is plenty of humor to be found along the way; the reactions of two of characters on the quest to the third one’s having fallen in love is priceless, for example. My favorite scene has our three heroes and their new female friend (played by Rae Dawn Chong, who spends the whole movie naked) under attack by a hostile tribe only to be saved by the unexpected appearance of a group of mammoths. All in all, this was a fascinating and satisfying movie.


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