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The Wonder of the Cinema

#34 Quest for Fire

Quest for Fire

Rae Dawn Chong

Rae Dawn Chong

There’s a classic filmmaking/acting assignment.  It harkens back to the days of silent films.  Tell a story without dialogue.  Ninety-nine times out of one hundred that’s how it stays, a class project.  But that one in a hundred that escape?  Well, that’s how we get interesting films like Quest for Fire.  How do you tell a story set 80,000 years ago?  A time before language, serious spoken language, was invented?

Sabre-Toothed Tiger?

Sabre-Toothed Tiger?

80,000 years ago fire was protection.  Protection from enemies who lack fire.  Protection from predators such as wolves and lions.  Protection from winter’s chill.  Protection from starvation as they cooked their food.  Fire separates humanity from the animals.  But when their fire dies–following an attack–what can they do?  Fire is magic for they lack the knowledge to create fire themselves.  Thus begins this tribe’s Quest for Fire.

Quest for Fire was Ron Perlman's first feature film

Quest for Fire was Ron Perlman’s first feature film

Quest for Fire came in with a budget of $12 million and won an Oscar for best makeup.  The makeup reputedly took five hours to apply.  Everett McGill, best known to sci-fi fans as Stilgar from Dune, Ron Perlman, in his first feature film role, Rae Dawn Chong, best known for her role as Cindy opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando, all speak/grunt a language invented for the film by Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange.  Quest for Fire is not a fast paced film or a “thrill ride,” but it is a fine piece of filmmaking that rewards the patient viewer.  Give it a try.  It is available on Netflix Instant.


About Rob Sterner

English teacher, Film buff, Filmmaker, Writer, Musician, Photographer, Runner, Taoist, Thinker, List maker...


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