Jean Jacques Annaud’s ‘Quest For Fire’

Quest For Fire truly is an astonishing film to behold. An ambitious picture that takes a snap shot of what Paleolithic Europe might have been like to create a basic story that encompasses a journey across continents and the evolution of man. overwhelmingly beautiful to behold, the feature has received its Bu-ray debut thanks to Second Sight.

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The narrative is quite simple, a literal quest for survival. The feature follows a tribe 80,000 years ago whose most valued possession is fire. Desperately guarded over at all times, no one knows how to create it. An attack from a neighbouring tribe means the loss of their flame and so three tribe members are sent on  mission to source a new flame and ensure the survival of their clansmen. The quest isn’t easy, and won’t be without struggle, but its importance will keep the trio determined.

What makes the film so engaging are the performances from its cast. Quest For Fire is dialogue free bar a made up primitive language that is non-sensical if not for the body movement and interpretation by the actors. Terrifically done, every notion of distress, anger, worry, desire, loss and intrigue is all conveyed by a group of actors whose technical ability to act with the most miniscule of body and facial expressions is wonderful to watch. Three of the four leads in particular are delightful; Everett McGill (Twin Peaks), Ron Pearlman (Hellboy) and Rae Dawn Chong (Commando), who each manage to craft unique and identifiable personalities despite saying nothing.

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The blu-ray transfer is a stunning watch. Shot in environmentally protected areas of Kenya, Scotland and Canada, the landscape of Quest is nothing short of breathtaking, with the transfer also bringing out the production design. The scope of location really is a joy to watch, with the film taking in as much as it can; mountains, marshes, caverns, bogs, savannahs. The costume and make up design are also wonderful, with one featurette on the release package (The Making of Quest For Fire) showing just how much research and attention went into the exploration of tribal markings and identifiable symbols. Even the design of prehistoric animals (sabretooth cats and wooly mammoths) is commendable, with all effects and stunts done physically, adding to the organic tone of the entire production.

That’s not to say that Quest For Fire is for everyone. Some will find the pacing very slow and trying, others will find the lack of understandable dialogue to be an instant turn off, but for the most part Quest really is a film worth watching and sticking through. Whilst there are one or two moments that border on ripe for parody, the feature really is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, nor can I overly recall anything that its similar to. Simply Quest is a film that you have to watch at least once in your life, even if to behold the ambitious beauty and simple ways in which storytelling can be told.

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