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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 September 2012
This is a honest and quite watchable French film - it is however nowhere near the quality of "Quest for fire", which the director tried to largely imitate... Some limited SPOILERS ahead.

It is the story of Ao, a Neanderthal man living 30 000 years ago, whose clan was destroyed and who tries to go back to the land of his ancestors, where he hopes find other people of his kind (by the way, the original title is "Ao, the last Neanderthal"). On his way he meets a young and very pregnant Homo sapiens woman, Aki, whose tribe also perished. Hard times making for strange travelling buddies, they will join forces, although for quite a long time without much enthusiasm... Their situation is complicated by the chase given to them by Hyena-Men, a small but very agressive band of Cro-Magnon Homo sapiens, the same who exterminated Aki's tribe.

The film has some really strong points:

- the images. Filmed mostly in national parks in Ukraine and Bulgaria, this movie offers us a very good show of wild nature, both in summer and winter, on plains, marshes, rugged hills and wild mountains; caves are very spectacular as is the recently burned out forest, with just the first traces of green re-appearing in the middle of desolation; genuine wild animals pictures (bisons, wild horses, wolves, eagles) were also skillfully integrated in the film.

- actors. British actors Simon Paul Sutton (Ao) and Aruna Shields (Aki) did very well. Aruna Shields paintings and other body decorations were very well made and they underline her considerable beauty (she also shows herself very generously to her public...).

- the story. I rather liked the story, even if the scenario is full of plot holes (see below). Maybe it is because I have myself little children, but for me this film became the most interesting after about 30 minutes, when Aki gave birth (in a very graphic scene) to a little girl. This prehistoric world was so dangerous that I feared greatly for the life of this little being all the time... The presence of this very young and very fragile new life is a very strong element of the film, as it gives to both main characters a new great motivation - and depth...

- music. It is rather discreet, but well chosen. Not as good as in "Quest for fire", but good.

- inclusion of last discoveries, like the importance of seafood in the diet of prehistoric tribes living near the sea or the fact that already 30 000 years ago people made musical instruments.

- rather comical Ao's attempts to "seduce" Aki - those scenes could have for title "How to get in her pants when she is not wearing any"...

But there are also some weak points:

- political correctness. Neanderthals are shown as pacifists, who because of a religious taboo are simply unable to kill any other people - this is what supposedly explains their weakness when facing the Homo sapiens... Also, in this film women are shown as hunters and warriors on the equal foot with men - something which in authentic hunter-gatherer tribes is virtually never the case...

- plot holes. Ao and Aki supposedly travelled all the way from Northern Siberia to Southern Spain (around 6000 km in straight line, with mountains, great rivers and large marshes on their way), with a newborn baby... Well, gosh, OK - but then, how come with the time the baby still is not even crawling (in fact she should already be walking...)? Also, when a giant bear kills the best warrior of a very small tribe what is the sense of sending only two guys with spears to confront it on the open? 30 000 years ago people were no more suicidal than today and they knew well how to prepare traps and also surprise and kill bears in their lairs...

- "Quest for fire" imitation. In my modest opinion Jacques Malaterre should not have tried to imitate Jean-Jacques Annaud by inventing prehistoric languages and making prehistoric people very different in behavior from "modern" ones. 30 000 years ago people already were people and they would not eat carrion and lick one another like dogs... Also, when listening to languages of present day isolated hunters gatherers from Amazonia or old aboriginal shamans from Australia, it is clear that those very ancient preserved languages are already modern speech. All the grunting, chest thumping, one word repetition and whole speeches containing the great total of two words give a wrong picture of our ancestors from those relatively recent times. 30 000 years ago Neanderthals had already behind them about 270 000 years of history and therefore also language development - and for the Homo Sapiens the number was 170 000 years. That leaves a lot of time to develop real speech.

- graphic violence. Is it REALLY necessary to SHOW dead bodies of murdered babies?

- the annoying commentary. Main heroes "speak prehistoric" as in "Quest for fire" - but just in case the viewers are too stupid to understand, frequently there is a commentary explaining what is happening and what they are saying. It is useful in a couple of scenes, but completely unnecessary in most of them.

But bottom line I rather liked this film and I am quite happy that I watched it, even if I do not think that I will buy it. If you liked "Quest for fire" and "Clan of the cave bear" you will probably also enjoy, at least a little, "Ao the last hunter".
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This probably has as much to do with Neanderthals as Watership Down has to do with the thought processes of rabbits: but since we cannot know we might as well imagine. Ao is portrayed as being an eco-warrior, very much in touch with nature and unwilling to kill humans, as compared to the horrid humans who are all too ready to meet the dead people quota. The loss of his tribe in the snow of Siberia sends him back to Greece to find his long-lost brother (the Neanderthals, who knew a thing or two about genetics, exchanging children between clans). Along the way he encounters the same disease that killed his father (malaria?), and meets a human woman. The story is entertaining, with plenty of action, but the slightly preachy narration (Neanderthals not speaking English, ye'll ken) may cause some derision.
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on 5 October 2014
As usual no film jargon.
Did I enjoy this film? Initially no. It has an English narrative which is quite frankly laughable and stoppd you watching the film as it so bad. Watch it in its French version with sub-titles and it works really well.

Would I wtch it again? Yes.
Is it worth the money? Yes.

There actually some really good acting moments within the film, whcih is a credit to the actors playing.
Worth buying! RJC.
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on 7 December 2014
Moving , beautifully filmed and acted simple story. There were plot weaknesses and the violence was hard to watch, so I didn't. But Ao's grief for his daughter,the growing tenderness in the relationship between Ao and Aki, and Ao's love for Wama goes to the heart. Wonderful locations and costuming. Other critics laugh at the "prehistoric" speech etc. But what do we know? And how will we ever know?
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on 4 April 2015
I guess scientists can only guess or imagine these sort of films, but it was entertaining, seemed plausible. I was happy with this disc.
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on 20 December 2011
We are in Europe, 30,000 years before the present. Ao (British actor Simon Sutton, under heavy makeup), is the last of the Neanderthals (he belonged to the last surviving clan, and escaped from being massacred
along them by a bunch of Homo Sapiens). He is now on the run, and in his flight, he takes as companion a beautiful Homo Sapiens girl named Aki (the beautiful Aruna Shields, a petite who appears in this film
topless most of the time) who is fleeing with her baby for some unspecified reason. Against all odds, Ao and Aki would have some sort of interspecies romance (scientists have recently found that there was
some interbreeding between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens).

Any film that deals with prehistoric man (not that there many of them), is almost inevitably going to have some ridiculous scenes, and this is no exception. But this French movie (by renowned documentary filmmaker Jacques Malaterre) is able to hold our interest. The beautiful wintry locations where this was shot (in France and Bulgaria) certainly helps.
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on 10 June 2015
Here is a great story that avoids the usual Neanderthal stereotypes, for here Neanderthal man is displayed as an equal at least. Lovely gritty and earthy story, in a world now lost to the mad world of 'advanced' civilization. Overall, this works well, despite the lack of dialogue and rather a lot of grunting, but the overall message is that these peoples were intelligent and emotional, and one with nature. The story is a flight of fancy perhaps, as Neanderthal man meets Homo Sapien native woman, but it certainly conveys plenty of realism with regard to a world now gone forever.
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on 12 January 2015
Good movie.
I saw the french version subtitled in English
This movie is about the adventures of a neanderthal trying to survive and have a normal life after he loses his tribe and his family.
He also establishes a relationship with a human woman that he accidentally liberated when he was escaping a human tribe.
The woman has a baby that reminds him of his own lost daughter and he takes care of them.
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on 14 February 2014
Filmakers should have left the narration out, was completely uneccessary. Cover is obviously trying to sell it as something it isn't.
Aside from that I thought it was a very good film, beautifully shot, well acted, decent simple story, stunning locations.
Similarities to "Quest for Fire".
Would happily watch again, maybe without sound!!
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on 5 February 2015
Once you get over the (not bad) prosthetics and grunting, it is actually a great attempt to re-create a prehistoric world. The French seem to do pre-civilisation rather well (see Quest For Fire). The Neanderthal's Disneyesque communing with the animals was a bit off-putting however. But the scenery was fantastic and I enjoyed this overall.
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