48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Watching...
Jean-Jaques Annaud managed to produce one of the most original movies of the 1980s with his prehistoric adventure: Quest for Fire. He battled for years for the right to produce and direct this film; the reason being that the film executives didn't see the point of making a film about such an obscure era, especially one that had no English dialogue or ordinary narrative...
Published on 28 May 2007 by F. Aetius
3.0 out of 5 stars Did i like this film
As usual no film jargon.
Did i like this film? Initially no, and that is because it has an English narrative that really under minds the film, and quite frankly is laughable.
Watch it in its French version with sub-titles and it works really well.
Would I watch it again? Yes
Is it worth the money? Yes
The actors actually did a great...
Published 5 months ago by R. J. Chippendale
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Watching...,
Jean-Jaques Annaud managed to produce one of the most original movies of the 1980s with his prehistoric adventure: Quest for Fire. He battled for years for the right to produce and direct this film; the reason being that the film executives didn't see the point of making a film about such an obscure era, especially one that had no English dialogue or ordinary narrative. But It's a great thing that they finally took the initiative to create this movie, as it really is an excellent film; the likes of which we will probably never see again.
The film tells the story of a Neanderthal tribe (The Ulam) who are attacked by their savage neighbours (The Wagabu). In the midst of a battle the tribe lose their cave home, but even worse, they lose control of their fire, an element they know how to tend but not how to produce. Faced with death through exposure to the cold environment; three of these Neanderthals set off on a quest in search of another source of fire, venturing off into unknown lands where they come across wild beats, bloodthirsty cannibals, and many other wonders and dangers.
The film looks absolutely brilliant, as a lot of time was devoted to searching for places on Earth that still had the touch of the primordial. From the woodlands and moors, to the swamps and the deserts, it feels like you're glimpsing at the world of 80,000 years ago.
The costumes and make-up are also very convincing; the Neanderthals look primitive, but not too backward as to be ridiculous. The other Hominids look great, especially the ape-like 'Wagabu' and 'Kzamm' tribes . Extra detail is produced with the human tribe (the 'Ivaka'), who have their own tribal body paints, technology and clothing.
Another thing that adds an air of authenticity to the film is the use of body language. The characters move and interact with each other in a primitive way, yet this strange body language isn't so odd that we don't understand what emotions they're conveying. If anything, the gestures and facial expressions make it more than clear what the characters are feeling. Still, there's only so much you can convey through gestures and that's where Anthony Burgess (of 'A Clockwork Orange' fame) steps in, with his invented "caveman" language. Despite having no subtitles, these are easy to understand. Usually, a strange language becomes a barrier for the viewer, but in Quest for Fire it becomes one of the film's attractions.
Despite the effort taken by the director to make the film feel authentic, it should be noted that it's not an accurate portrayal of the Palaeolithic era. But then again, which "Historical" film has ever been a faithful reconstruction?
One of the film's great touches is its humorous moments. There are many scenes that spring to mind, especially the fight between one of the protagonists and a cannibal. The expressions and grunts of the various cavemen also bring a comedic value to the film, which helps make the characters much more 'human'.
What makes this DVD worth getting is its great extra features. Usually older obscure films of this type never get an extra feature beyond a trailer. But this DVD has two film commentaries (one by the director, the other by the actors) an interview, a making of documentary and 15 video galleries with audio commentary.
All in all, this film might not be for everyone's taste, yet it's definitely worth watching.
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Quest for Fire,
This review is from: Quest for Fire [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Having first seen this film in the cinema, I have waited over 20 years for a DVD version.
The story is set in the world as it might well have been in prehistoric times. Although little can be certain of the actual daily life of the early inhabitants, the amount of research and care for detail of costume and body language as deduced is tremendous.
The story centres on the vital importance of fire. It grips the interest and imagination from beginning to end.
Equally fascinating is the additional gallery of commentary and photographs and film clips about the making of the film, which took 4 years in its production.
This DVD is in NTSC and coded to Region 1. You will need a multi-regional DVD player to view it. I ordered a Sony NS355 from Amazon, which played the DVD just as it were a European Region 2 DVD.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, clever movie still captivating the viewer,
This movie by Jean-Jacques Annaud is highly recommended. Shot in the early 1980s and now a classic of sorts, it delineates the fate of a small Neanderthal tribe which has lost its most important possession, a torch of fire, in a fierce battle with some ape-like hairy creatures resembling Homo erectus (which actually didn't exist at the same time as the Neanderthals, one of the movie's many paleoanthropological blunders). Because they apparently only know how to use fire without being aware of how to make it, the tribe's three most capable warriors, portrayed convincingly by Everett McGill, Ron Perlman and Nameer El Kadi, set off on a trip to reignite the torch for their kinsfolk. On the journey they encounter a female Homo sapiens, played by the unforgettable Rae Dawn Chong. Some sort of culture shock takes place, as it begins to dawn on the Neanderthals that they are culturally and technologically inferior to their taller, leaner cousins. The big question is: will the Neanderthals be able to learn from their human cousins or are they doomed to die out?
The movie offers a uniquely imaginative story, marvellous landscapes partly shot in the Scottish Highlands and Kenya's savannah, an astonishing proto-human language developed by Anthony Burgess and spherical music forming a perfect backdrop to the epic story. Also, there is a 25 min. special feature about film production on the DVD, which is highly informative. This DVD is definitely worth your dough.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 2001 without the spaceships,
Jean-Jacques Annaud found the ideal way of breaking into the mainstream worldwide market by making films that dispensed with dialog almost entirely - no dubbing or subtitling problems that way - and opting instead for purely visual storytelling with Quest for Fire (and following the trick a couple of years later with The Bear). Thanks to a brilliantly bizarre marketing campaign by 20th Century Fox that sold it as a `science fantasy' - 2001 without the spaceships - this Neanderthal adventure became a huge box-office hit but seems to be almost completely forgotten a quarter of a century on despite giving us both the great Ron Perlman's screen debut and plentiful nudity from a very fit Rae Dawn Chong. With a French title that literally translates as War of Fire, it follows the adventures of a trio of cave dwellers after an attack by ape men leaves them without fire. As they trek across African and Scottish landscapes doubling convincingly for prehistoric landscapes, they encounter sabre-toothed tigers, cannibals, and treacherous bogs and, along the way they also discover religion (in the God-like form of mammoths), slapstick comedy, love and the missionary position. At times you find yourself admiring the achievement more than the film itself - thanks to a mixture of strong physical actors, Chris Tucker's convincing makeup, body language designed by Desmond Morris and a limited vocabulary courtesy of Anthony Burgess - but it's still head and shoulders above just about every other caveman movie ever made. And no dinosaurs or mink bikinis either, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your taste.
The DVD boasts an excellent extras package, with for once the various stills galleries turning out to be one of the highlights thanks to Annaud's commentary over them giving them a sense of context.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quest For Fire,
This film was new to me and I had no idea what to expect .However I realy enjoyed it .As the title says it is all about fire and the struggle to have it for your tribe and to keep it burning and to stop other tribes from stealing your fire .I dont know if the events in the film are typical of the lives of our ancestors but they are beliveable .I did enjoy the various tribes with various stages of civilization that are shown living in that world .The film had a strong story ,though simple but I found it quite gritty.It also portrayed human emotions even humour.
All in all I enjoyed the film and am glad that I took a chance when I bought the film unknown as it was to me .
If you like the Clan Of The CaveBear style films you may like this film
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Motion Picture on Region 2 DVD!!!!!,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
"Quest for Fire" has at last come out on DVD in Region 2 and I was more than happy to buy a copy from Amazon, as I had not seen the film since it's original release.
The film was great. It has lost none of its excitement and charm. In fact I think the film ages well like a fine wine. The performances are all excellent but for me the revelation was just how good Everett McGill was in the part of Naoh. His performance is superb and the binding force that lets you understand and enjoy the Film.
The DVD picture quality is great as is the sound. The extras are quite extensive as well. There is an informative and amusing commentary track by the Director. A separate commentary by the self-praising Rae Dawn Chong and the agreeable Ron Perlman, unfortunately they are not joined by Everett McGill. Jean-Jacques Annaud, the director of the film, is the star of the bonus material and luckily he is a very intelligent and an amusing raconteur.
There is a "Making of" documentary and more commentaries over production stills and location recce material.
The only question that seems to linger is the lack of references to Everett McGill or his wonderful performance. Ron Perlman is constantly praised and the story of his audition is often quoted and remarked upon, as is the discovery of Rae Dawn Chong.
During the directors commentary he remarks that another actor was cast as Naoh but left after disagreements with the movement coach. The director was forced to fly to America to cast the roll at short notice. That's it. Never is Everett McGill referred too directly or even praised. Everett McGill is the soul of the Film and holds it all together. He also got frostbite while crossing a freezing river in Scotland at the insistence of the demanding director, so does not that in itself deserve extraordinary and unbiased praise?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quest for Fire DVD,
This film, although based on speculation as we can't be certain how they really lived in Stone Age times, intrigued me. It begins with a tribe being attacked and losing their only access to 'fire', they don't know it can be made. After the attack three men are sent to find fire, and they make a journey during which they have adventures, ultimately encountering a more hominid type tribe. This tribe has fire and they are shown that it can be made, and they stay a while but begin their return journey with live fire, however, one of their group decides he's not returning and opts to remain with the hominid group. In places the film is quite funny as humour and teasing are discovered, something that doesn't exist in his world, and he realises that there is much more in the wider world than he knew about in his environment with his own tribe. It is a film suitable for all ages, and it does have subtitles, but even without I would have found it enjoyable. Marks out of 10, I would give it 7.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Highly recommended,
This film should be seen by everyone old enough to appreciate it. The Director Jean-Jacques Annaud is a genius and this, one of his early films, is a masterpiece. Although it is graphic and harrowing in places, ask yourself one very important question at the end - have man's basic needs changed much in 10,000 years?. Intelligent viewers will without doubt appreciate the film's profound impact.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-see film,
This is one of those films that will resonate within you long after you've seen it. The landscapes of Scotland and Kenya are only just eclipsed by the superb performances by the actors involved. For me, the most interesting aspect was the fact that there were three tribes, all in varying stages of the evolutionary process. The protagonist tribe are in possession of a fire yet lack the skills to make one from scratch. A tribe of ape-men jealous of said fire steal it and then there is the tribe who excel both in terms of intelligence and crucially the ability to create fire. This is a must-see film.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Timeless,
I saw this when it first came out over 20 years ago, and I was suitably impressed. It was good then and it is good now. It's a thoughtfully constructed film with an emphasis on accuracy of detail, as can be seen in the interesting DVD extras (numerous experts drafted in to get it right, elephants disguised as mammoths, actors almost living their roles, etc). The film never falls into caricature and its characters all retain a certain dignity. There is action, sentiment, and some spectacular visuals. And not a modern word is uttered throughout the film. Truly unique, and worth watching.
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Quest For Fire [DVD] by Jean-Jacques Annaud (DVD - 2013)