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Quest for Fire

Director: Jean – Jacques Annaud

Cast: Everett McGill, Ron Pelman, Nicholas Kadi

Running Time: 100 Minutes

Quest for Fire is epic narrative to its core, tackling the actual and symbolic protection of fire by warring tribes 80,000 years ago. Like a continuation on the scene in 2001 after the bone is thrown, it captures a hypothetical moment in our history with a degree of intensity that is searing in its portrayal. Quest for Fire is by no means an easy film, underlined by its use of a fully developed language of grunts developed by the noted novelist and linguist Anthony Burgess. However, this by no means limits our understanding but rather deepens it, condensing the themes and tropes to the most humanistic of levels, much like its study of the struggle for seemingly basic survival.

It is a film that shows its age but also a film steeped in the unusual contrast of intensely paced blocking and editing that underpin subtle performances and an epic visual storytelling style that at times has a similar feel to Das Boot.  By focusing purely on Annaud’s stylistic choices it would be easy to overlook or dismiss the subtleties contained within Quest for Fire but therein lies its power. It is a triumph of escapist cinema that disembodies the viewer by removing their linguistic frame of reference, and instead creates communication using phonology.  It is also the most accurate representation to date of the world in which our ancestors lived and a preemptive antidote to 2008’s blockbuster, “10,000 BC”.

It’s a highly recommended piece.

VHS Rating: 8.8/10

 

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