Quest for Fire

The film Quest for Fire (1982) begins with 3 warriors (Ron Perlman, Everett McGill and Nameer El-Kadi) of a primitive homo-sapien tribe who are sent out to find a source of fire (they don't know how to produce it) after their tribe's fire is extinguished during an attack by a group of marauding Neanderthals.

The film Quest for Fire (1982) begins with 3 warriors (Ron Perlman, Everett McGill and Nameer El-Kadi) of a primitive homo-sapien tribe who are sent out to find a source of fire (they don't know how to produce it) after their tribe's fire is extinguished during an attack by a group of marauding Neanderthals. They find fire among a cannibal tribe after numerous adventures, but they also learn how to produce it themselves when they are led to an advanced human community by a young girl (Rae Dawn Chong) whom they've saved from the cannibals.

It is a measure of the film's success that it is never ridiculous. French director Jean-Jacques Annaud chose to distance himself from the material and direct in a matter-of-fact style that does not exclude a certain naiveté and sense of humour. The language used in the film was created by novelist and science-popularizer Anthony Burgess, and the body movements by Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape. Chong stands out as the tribal nymphet who teaches the trio how to make fire - and love. Quest for Fire isn't science, though. It's an imaginary re-creation of our past and it uses history for inspiration, not as a data source.

A Canada/France co-production, the film was shot in Scotland, Kenya and the Muskoka District of Ontario, and produced by Denis Héroux and John Kemeny during the height of the tax-shelter years. It won Genie Awards for best actress (Chong), editing, overall sound and sound editing. It also won the Oscar and BAFTA for best make-up.


Quest for Fire