Quest for Fire (1981) Poster


One of the principal reasons Rae Dawn Chong was cast as Ika was because she was completely comfortable with being nude. She remained nude on the set most of the time between scenes (while in full body makeup) to stay in character.
Ron Perlman's film debut.
Both Ron Perlman and Everett McGill suffered frostbite, luckily they were able to heal completely. Despite the working conditions, they both enjoyed making the film.
A majority of the scenes were shot in a single take.
The language used by the cavemen, which comprises all of the spoken dialogue, was created by Anthony Burgess. Burgess is best known as the author of the novel and film A Clockwork Orange (1971), and creator of the language, Nadsat, used in it.
The woolly mammoths were played by circus elephants.
The set designer caught anthrax when he handled untreated animal skins whilst working on this picture.
Everything in the film was shot live; there were no optical effects done in post production.
The opening shot was intended to be just a test shot and wound up in the opening scene because it turned out better than expected.
It took three years to get this movie financed, and a whole year to make.
Ron Perlman expected the film to be no better than campier prehistoric movies like 'One Million Years BC.' In his memoir, he confessed that this caused him to be unnecessarily rude to Jean-Jacques Annaud during their first meeting. Rather than take offense, Annaud was fascinated by Perlman's candor, and (after initially hating each other early in filming) the two would become close friends.
The cast was originally fitted for footwear, but this idea was nixed early in the production of this picture.
Actors went through make-up sessions that lasted five hours each morning.
The Kzamm tribe were played by wrestlers.
Two different bears were used for the sequence with the bear in a cave.
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The special features and commentary state that there are only two species of hominids in the movie, Homo-sapiens and Neanderthal. Naoh and Ika are Homo-sapiens; however, the director commentary states that Ika's people are "more evolved". The other species, the Ape-like creatures, are representing Neanderthal man. If using the shooting locations as a reference; Naoh is from Scotland, Ika is from Kenya, and of course the Neanderthals are from Germany.
This movie is set 80,000 years ago in Paleolithic Europe.
The movie was originally intended to be completely filmed in Iceland. Australia and New Zealand were also considered.
Desmond Morris choreographed the gestural and body language of the characters.
The language of the Ivaka tribe heard in the film was derived from the native Inuit / Cree peoples of Northern Canada. However, apparently, their dialogue actually is unintelligible in terms of this film's storyline.
This movie was theatrically released without subtitles but DVD technology and the common use of subtitling of movies on DVD now has this movie available with subtitles (which wasn't the case with its release on home videocassette). The subtitles on the DVD are somewhat simplified titles of the prehistorical dialogue.
Iron Maiden, the heavy metal band, wrote a song about this movie using the same title on their Piece of Mind (1983) album.
The auditions for this movie were held in thirty-two cities all over the world.
Director Jean-Jacques Annaud originally discovered Rae Dawn Chong on the beach in Los Angeles.
This picture was filmed in environmental protected locations in three countries: Canada, Kenya and Scotland.
This film has often been likened to an extended version of opening Dawn of Man sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
The title of this movie in French is "La Guerre du feu" and that is translated to "The War of fire", the German title is "Am anfang war das feuer" which means "At the beginning was the fire" and of course the English title is "Quest for fire". A trivial side note to this trivia, the fact that man living in such close proximity as Africa and on to England, France, and Germany yet all speak different languages reinforces the story line of the movie giving examples that early man was tribal and formed closed groups that depended on each other for survival.
This film is classified as having no language though where language is a system of grunts, groans and gestures, it can be called Gibberish, as with the French cult movie Themroc (1973).
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La guerre du feu, the novel by J.-H. Rosny Aîné, is credited in the edition by Presses de la Cité, instead of the original literary source. That editor promoted a new edition in 1982, in the wake of the film's success.
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David Prowse was among the English performers who auditioned.
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This prehistoric drama was released in 1981, the same year as the comedy Caveman (1981) and Mel Brooks's History of the World: Part I (1981), the latter of which had a caveman comedy section. These three movies were all first-released in 1981.
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