Movie review: Quest for fire

15 aug

Early humans didn’t know how to start a fire. In Quest for Fire (1981), a group of Neanderthals loses the fire they’ve kept burning for years. Three men are send out to search for new flames.

On their way they run into a female homo sapiens, a Cro-Magnon, which is the type of human I’m copying the habits of. Her language is more elaborate, she has body paint and she knows modern sex positions, or rather: she knows you don’t need to rape a woman in order to have sex. More importantly, when they reach her tribe it turns out the Cro-Magnons know how to make fire.


The movie is set in Europe, 80,000 years ago. I’m not a paleontologist, but from what I’ve read so far a few questions came to mind.

  • None of the women in the movie were hunting, while I’ve read that Neanderthals might have hunted in groups, as the bone fractures both men, women and kids sometimes had resemble those of rodeo riders (true story!), who also get bumped around by large animals. For homo sapiens the most plausible theory seems that men hunted for large animals and women for smaller ones, such as rabbits and fish. In the movie, not even a single berry is gathered by the women. They seemed kind of passive when it comes to acquiring food. Since gathering provided at least half of the calories we needed back then, women must have had some power in the negotiations over food.
  • Which brings me to another doubt about the way women are portrayed in the movie. ‘Rape’ might be an anachronism, but pleasure is timeless and it didn’t seem the women were having that while having sex with the men. I think it’s way to simplistic to say that just because men were stronger, women probably had to do what they wanted. But I need to read more on this topic.
  • The skin of the Cro-Magnons is pretty light. I think the latest theory is that homo sapiens’ skin started turning lighter 20.000 years ago, not 80.000 years already.


It was interesting that the movie suggested more voluminous women had a higher status. Don’t know if there’s any proof for that, but it might be problematic for me to reach that state.

I do recommend the movie as is it beautifully shot and the actors are great, especially Ron Perlmans face is priceless. And it gave me a lot of inspiration for things I’d like to try in the year..

More interesting wiki-facts on the movie

Oh and I guess I need a way to rank the movie. Wilma thinks stars are to obvious, she’s more attached to the moon – especially the full moon. So I’m giving this movie a half-moon:

half moon


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