Quest for Fire

1981, Drama, 1h 37m

22 Reviews 5,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Its characters can't do much more than grunt, but that doesn't keep Quest for Fire from offering a deeply resonant -- and surprisingly funny -- look at the beginning of the human race. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

In the prehistoric world, a Cro-Magnon tribe depends on an ever-burning source of fire, which eventually extinguishes. Lacking the knowledge to start a new fire, the tribe sends three warriors (Everett McGill, Ron Perlman, Nameer El-Kadi) on a quest for more. With the tribe's future at stake, the warriors make their way across a treacherous landscape full of hostile tribes and monstrous beasts. On their journey, they encounter Ika (Rae Dawn Chong), a woman who has the knowledge they seek.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for Quest for Fire

Audience Reviews for Quest for Fire

  • Aug 21, 2021
    The plot is actually fairly predictable however you do have to admire the effort that when into this and the bold choice of having no intelligible dialogue for the entire movie.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 16, 2021
    Whereas most science fiction looks ahead and speculates about what technological advances await us and to what benefit, this film instead is creative by imagining back to how we began our journey out of the muck and mire. Technology is the tool around which society coagulates and so this particular speculation follows the comic mishaps of a trio of nervous adventurers who dangerously seek out that fickle plasma that so hypnotizes. Along the way is Knowledge, which they don't necessarily want and which is gained only at cost, which enriches all. This is a gem of a work.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 14, 2013
    Visually, "Quest for Fire" is an ugly film, and that's not just because all that it captures are filthy Neanderthals. The cinematography is drab and muddled and the idea of shot composition seems to have been ignored almost entirely. Whether this technique is intentional or not is beside the point; it makes the movie hard to watch. It's cool that there's an actual movie about cavemen and their discovery of fire, but it's hard to make unintelligent characters like these interesting or even close to likable. The locations are beautiful and the makeup is amazing, but I personally don't find much of interest in "Quest of Fire." It's a respectable work that I imagine some will grow to love; I'm just not one of those people.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Dec 06, 2011
    This is one of the coolest, most interesting, and unique films that I've seen in quite some time, possibly (maybe) ever. To simply, this is a feature length version of the "Dawn of Man" segment from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It takes places (likely) in what is now Europe, only 80,000 years in the past. The main story follows a trio of neanderthal tribesman tasked with going on a journey to find fire and bring it back to their tribe after the fire that they had been using and protecting tragically gets extinguished. This would all be simpler if they were more advanced and could make the fire themselves, but at least they're more developed than one of the other tribes depicted in the film. The story is quite simple, but there's so much more to it than that. Besides being a basic man versus nature survival story, it's also very human and deep, and traces the development of man into a less primitive state of being. Four tribes are depicted in the film, all of them in various stages of development, and each with their own set of values, culture, and language or communication abilities. The story starts out as interesting, and only gets even more so from there as the trio's journey takes them to places that alter their world forever. Yes, you do have to suspend disbelief, and sometimes the material comes off as a bit hokey, but you actually really care about the characters, and are just as delighted as they are when they make new discoveries, even if it is something as simple as learning the concept of laughter. This is a really fascinating film, and it feels like a pretty high water mark to me. Some of it got a little slow for me in a couple of places, but that aside, there's not much (that I'm personally aware of) wrong with it. I thought it was pretty realistic, and well researched, and I liked that it was rather artsy and that the film had no narration (outside of an opening crawl) or real language or subtitles, forcing the viewer to follow things solely based on music cues, facial expressions, actions, and body language. As far as acting goes, it's pretty damn good. This was probably more challenging than it might seem, but everyone does a wonderful job. At the time, none of the cast were known, but that has changed for two of them: Ron Perlman and Rae Dawn Chong. The makeup and effects are pretty decent, though I think Perlman might have been too authentic (sorry bud, I love you and your unique look, but that's probably why the types of roles you get are generally pretty limited. All in all, this is some tremendous stuff, and it's definitely great at provoking thought and discussion. Unfortunately I don't think some people would be mature enough to handle this without giggling, and it's not for all tastes anyway, but I do think it's one that everyone should see.
    Chris W Super Reviewer

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