Article 4997 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Fred Schepisi
Featuring Timothy Hutton, Lindsay Crouse, John Lone
What it is: Science fiction drama
When a frozen Neanderthal found in the arctic regions turns out to still be alive, an anthropologist seeks to make contact with him. However, other scientists want to use him as a research specimen to discover how he was able to keep from dying in his frozen state, and the two aims aren’t compatible…
If there’s any one single reason to see this movie, it is for John Lone’s performance as the revived Neanderthal. In his hands, the Neanderthal becomes such a fascinating, alive character that I’m amazed he didn’t even get an Oscar nomination for his work. His performance compensates somewhat for the flaws in the script itself. To my mind, the script is unfocused; it has several good ideas, but it doesn’t really settle in on which direction it wants to go until late in the movie, and then it makes the disappointing but audacious choice to plunge into the mystical. As moving as this might be for some, I find myself wishing it had pursued some of the other paths that the movie considers. I have a few other problems with the movie, such as the fact that the Neanderthal manages to escape his controlled environment with an unrealistic ease; certainly, someone would have been thoughtful enough to put up more safeguards. Nevertheless, there is always Lone’s performance to buoy the movie up, and the movie is worth watching for that alone.