Catching up #2 – Quest for Fire

Quest for Fire (1981)

Jean-Jacques Annaud


“Quest for Fire” was fairly revolutionary, for a movie about cavemen. First and foremost, the makeup used was an evolution in prosthetics, both in terms of the Cro-Magnon makeup and the special “alterations” made to specific animals; I’ll bet good money that those lions did NOT like their fangs.

Second, it was early exposure for two notable “genre” actors, Everett McGill and Ron Perlman, Naoh and Amoukar, respectively. McGill went on to play “Stilgar” in David Lynch’s Dune, as well as Ed Hurley in Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” and “Dad” in The People Under the Stairs, one of my favorite horror films. Ron Perlman started his resume of prosthetics-covered characters with this film, moving on to make a name for himself as Vincent in TV’s “Beauty and the Beast” before playing Sayer of the Law in The Island of Dr. Moreau and more recently, Hellboy in the live action and animated films based on the comics, as well as lending his voice to several TV shows and video games.

(To subject yourself to the virtual equivalent of me talking in the theater jammed into 140 characters, follow me @stuffbyed. Note: I have my account blocked to keep those pesky spambots out. Send me a request and regret it when you sober up.)

-CATCHING UP! Now watching: “Quest for Fire” (1981)
-Oh hey, stock footage of wolves.
-Times haven’t changed. Whole family passed out in front of the glowy thing in the middle of the room.
-Back then, it wasn’t rape, it was continuing the species.
-Run, Hellboy, run!
-He holds the agro crag!
-The world’s first tech support failure.
-That lion clearly did not pass the Presidential Fitness test due to its inability to do a single pull-up.
-Ron perman takes his Easter basket very seriously.
-There’s no fire…but that’s a lotta cocaine.
-Mmmm…baby back ribs.
-Rae Dong Chong escaped from that tree…and wound up on an episode of “That’s So Raven”.
-…and it looks like she invented lube.
-And the wild Snuffleuffagus makes an appearance.
-Hey, she said this wasn’t a date. That’s why your “reach and stretch”-turned-hump attempt didn’t work, Ron.
-She’s not gonna call him back.
-The housing market suffered way back then, too.
-That’s a hell of a greeting. “Hi. Let’s look at your teeth. Annnnnnd now let’s jerk you off.”
-The “no fatties” rule clearly did not apply back then.
-The first stolen joke. Ron perman is proto-Carlos Mencia.
-Lesson learned: women are better at making fire. (Insert mysoginistic joke involving an oven here.)

AFTER THE FACT (may contain spoilers):
While not necessarily a widely-known film, I’m certainly glad I got to see it. Granted, the massive plot hole of time relative to travel on foot (northern Europe to northern Africa and back in only what appears to be a few weeks) looms over this film, but on the whole, a very original setting for storytelling and a fantastic adventure story.
One of the film’s primary strengths is that there’s so much one can take away from this film. If I had the chance, I’m sure I could write a massive paper on this. Alas, I’m fairly lazy, and have no interest in writing papers if I’m not getting paid and/or some sort of grade.
The strongest element of the story was the portrayal of primitive perspective. For example, at one point in the movie, a heard of wooly mammoths appears, putting an effective end to a fight between our heroes and a rival tribe. When one of these hairy gods accepts an offering from Naoh (which, in reality, is nothing more than a large, hungry animal accepting a handful of food), the other tribe takes this as a sign to back off.
At another point in the story, after rescuing our main proto-man from captivity (and a sentence of what appears to be having sex with the tribe’s more rotund females), Ron perman’s character steals several spears and simple devices used to sling arrows*. Comparatively, that theft is the equivalent of stealing several computers from an office building, or maybe even jacking all the iPods from a college dormitory.
If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it. While not a perfect movie, it certainly has something for everyone.

*If anyone knows the name of this tool, I’d be greatly appreciative if you were to e-mail me.

More from the world of Geek Syndicate


  1. bbp /

    One of the most amazing things about this movie is that it is spoken completely in made up languages, without subtitles. The narative is done completely through the action. And Rae Dwan Chang chatters like a blonde freshman at her first kegger.

  2. maddy /

    The name of that tool for throwing arrows is atlatl.


    I thot that QUEST FOR FIRE was dam good. I dont know about any of you about that!!!

%d bloggers like this: