Quest For Fire

Starring: Everett McGill, Ron Perlman and Rae Dawn Chong
Second Sight Films Ltd
RRP: 17.99
2NDVD 3109
Certificate: 15
Available 25 September 2006

80000 years ago and man has discovered fire, but not how to make it. When a Neanderthal tribe is attacked they loose their only source of fire. Without the knowledge to create it the tribe will die. So begins a quest to either find a new source of the secret of creating fire...

Quest for Fire (La Guerre du Feu, 1981) is an overlooked little classic directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, who also directed Enemy at the Gates (2001) and Seven Years in Tibet (1997) and was a multi award winning film gaining both an Oscar and a Bafta as well as a further nine awards and seven nominations.

The film has no dialogue as such, though the tribe does use a vocabulary of over three hundred words designed by Anthony Burgess, writer of A Clockwork Orange, though without subtitles it is only possible to guess what the words mean by either the speakers actions or the reaction that they get. It's an interesting concept and demonstrates the lengths that Annaud would go to, to achieve what he saw as authenticity. It is an audacious project, which given its originality, I'm surprised that he was able to get the finance together, but given the result I for one am glad he did.

Beneath the prosthetics there are some excellent actors lurking, first and foremost is Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Alien Resurrection) in his first major role. Everett McGill (Dune, Twin Peaks) also lurks under the makeup, as does Rae Dawn Chong (The Colour Purple). To be honest they do a very good job of drawing the audience into their world, especially as they are hamstrung from the outset without the use of a recognisable language. And draw you in they do, as the tribe travels across a potentially lethal landscape, discovering along the way both friend and foe, but more importantly the genesis of the human race, this is particularly demonstrated with their use of humour.

For such an overlooked film the DVD comes with some impressive extras. Not only do you get a full length commentary by Annaud but there is a second one from Ron Perlman, Rae Dawn Chong and Michael Gruskoff, the Executive Producer. You get an interview with the director and a making of feature as well as video gallery with audio commentary from Annaud which consists of fifteen short features which cover just above every aspect of the films making.

The picture is presented in a very nice anamorphic print with a 5.1 audio track.

So, it's a lost little classic, with great extras, which would be an asset to any serious collectors DVD library.

Charles Packer

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