Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Quest For Fire

(Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1981)
Presented with generous art-film trappings and production values to match, this bizarre occurrence is in fact an attempt to drag Joseph Campbell and/or Syd Field kicking and screaming into the wayback machine. While I'm sure everything was meticulously researched, I'm equally sure that John Kemeny and Denis Heroux fixed the intelligence: the impressive battle scenes and embarrassing romantic subplot are entirely familiar despite the grunt-reliant script, and the history of human sexuality - in which Rae Dawn Chong wields the missionary position as an instrument of cavewoman's liberation - bears the same relationship to its audience as National Geographic's topless Africans. Neither profound nor convincing, this confounding schlock mutation remains a great deal of fun, and seemingly quite aware of its strengths in spite of the overlay of high seriousness. On a single road trip, Everett McGill enriches his culture with the discoveries of monogamy, laughter, and how to rub two sticks together, and when you think about it aren't those three things the most basic elements of 20th century commercial cinema? Wicked!

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