The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Clan of the Cave Bear Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Cinematographer Michael Chapman directed this John Sayles adaptation of Jean M. Auel's best-selling ode to Cro-Magnon women. The story begins at the moment in pre-history when the last of the Neanderthal men were becoming extinct and the superior race of Cro-Magnons were starting to supersede them. Focusing on a tribe of wandering Neanderthals who adopt a young girl named, Ayla (played as an adult by Daryl Hannah). She grows tall, lithe, and smart. The Neanderthals quickly accept her into their tribe, but once a tribal member, Ayla begins to question the tribe's male chauvinistic presumptions. Unable to conceive of why only men are given weapons, she takes it upon herself to learn how to use a slingshot. She then questions the tribe's assumptions concerning sexual politics. She learns to count and becomes the assistant to the local medicine expert. As the seasons wear on, the tribe utilizes Ayla's knowledge for their own good while Ayla's continues to try the patience of the tribe with her unspeakable feminist demands.more
Rating: R (N/A)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Jean M. Auel, John Sayles, Michael Austin
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 9, 1999
Warner Bros. Pictures


Guila Chiesa
as Young Girl
Shauna Fanara
as Young Girl
Joey Cramer
as Young Broud
Nicole Eggert
as Middle Ayla
Emma Floria
as Young Ayla
Mary Reid
as Ayla's Mother
Samantha Ostry
as Young Uba
Shane Punt
as Young Vorn
Amy Cyr
as Young Girl
Colin Doyle
as Young Boy
Salome Jens
as Narrator
Bart the Bear
as the bear
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Clan of the Cave Bear

Critic Reviews for The Clan of the Cave Bear

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (4)

This is Reader's Digest prehistory, though at least director Chapman (cameraman on Raging Bull) makes sure the murky caves look nice.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The filmmakers made no effort to empathize with their prehistoric characters, to imagine what it might have really been like back then.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

A goofy and ill-made movie that wants to be deadly serious and acts incredibly daft, and the average between these two points is of a joyless, dull nothing.

Full Review… | July 16, 2012
Antagony & Ecstasy

As the cave wall says, stay with the book.

November 1, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

Audience Reviews for The Clan of the Cave Bear

Slow and pointless. Lacks great elements like Quest for Fire, which had Ron Pearlman and tons of monkey people fights.

Curtis Lilly

Super Reviewer


The perfect movie for Darryl Hannah. She does an excellent job with use her sign languages in her character as a cavewoman by communicating each other.

Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

I've seen some bad reviews of this and even the author of the book, Jean M. Auel, on which the movie is based evidently didn't like it. I did like it though. The make-up work rivals that of The Planet of the Apes. I thought the minimal use of spoken dialogue and consistent primitive sign language was well done. The subtitles did not distract: they helped because the characters do not use a known language. I identified with the theme of Ayla having to walk alone in the end because she questioned the ways of the clan too much. Critic Roger Ebert says, "[The movie] never quite makes them seem frightened and ignorant and vulnerable and bewildered." In a way the clan is subject to nature and these qualities, especially Brun who's primary fault is the way in which he deals with the feelings that Ebert mentions by being close-minded and macho. But I don't think Ebert has a legitimate critique because most cultures won't show these traits because they think they have it all figured out. The series of books are all about how ancient peoples who lived in caves are not so primitive as we might assume. And so, their culture just like ours and every one in between has a certain pride in their own customs and norms that help them avoid those scary feelings. Ebert also sees the fact that "every one of these people has motives that are instantly recognizable and predictable" as a fault. He misses the point by coming to the movie with expectations that it would perhaps be more like One Million Years B.C.. I think the point of the story is that the books were bestsellers because they are about how human motives have always been the same.

Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

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