La guerre du feu (1981)
Although newer research has invalidated some of the facts on which La guerre du feu is based, the film still remains one of the most authentic and serious filmatic reproductions of human life and development during the Stone Age (more accurately the Paleolithic Age). French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud used a 1911 novel by Belgian writer J. H. Rosny as the basis for a devoted and inspirational look at how homo erectus, homo neanderthalis and homo sapiens (in cro-magnon form) could have co-existed somewhere in southern Europe 80,000 years ago. Their hardships and successes are portrayed with curiosity and inquiring realism by Annaud, and the performances and production values are incredibly impressive – particularly since the lack of a recognizable language leaves the actors so exposed. Everett McGill and Rae Dawn Chong both deliver career-best performances, and Ron Perlman, arguably the planet’s best equipped man for a part in this film, provides perfect balancing. La guerre du feu is a remarkable filmatic achievement when it comes to form and production, but it just as much a warm and entertaining love story which will make the viewer proud to be human.