Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Clan of the Cave Bear, The

US movie (1985). Producers Sales Organization/Sidney Kimmel/ Guber-Peters/Jozak-Decade/Jonesfilm. Pr Gerald I Isenberg. Exec pr Mark Damon, Peter Guber, John Hyde, Jon Peters. Dir Michael Chapman. Spfx Michael Clifford, Gene Grigg. Screenplay John Sayles. Based on The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980) by Jean M Auel. Starring Curtis Armstrong (Goov), John Doolittle (Brun), Nicole Eggert (teenage Ayla), Daryl Hannah (Ayla), Lycia Naff (Uba), Pamela Reed (Iza), James Remar (Creb), Thomas G Waites (Broud). 98 mins. Colour.

This little-liked Prehistoric Fantasy is subtitled throughout, the performed dialogue being mainly in the form of grunts, gestures and animal calls. Orphaned Cro-Magnon child Ayla is adopted by the Neanderthal Clan of the Cave Bear, which slowly accepts the Ugly Duckling despite her blondeness, tallness, independent nature and intelligence – and her impertinence in being an elect of the Cave Lion, a masculine Totem. At a clan gathering she and Shaman Creb see a Vision of Bear and Lion walking together, but then the Lion walking on beside her newborn Cro-Magnon/Neanderthal son Durc. In due course she leaves the child with the tribe to seek her own destiny. It is hard to see why TCOTCB has drawn such critical contempt, unless for its tacit Feminism: although the narration is overexpository and the equation of mental versatility with leggy blonde Cro-Magnons, as opposed to shabby Neanderthals, is a cliché, the movie is beautifully shot, well scripted and finely acted. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.