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The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986)

A young Cro-Magnon woman is raised by Neanderthals.


Michael Chapman


Jean M. Auel (novel), John Sayles (screenplay)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Daryl Hannah ... Ayla
Pamela Reed ... Iza
James Remar ... Creb
Thomas G. Waites ... Broud
John Doolittle ... Brun
Curtis Armstrong ... Goov
Martin Doyle ... Grod
Adel Hammoud Adel Hammoud ... Vorn (as Adel C. Hammoud)
Tony Montanaro Tony Montanaro ... Zoug
Mike Muscat ... Dorv
John Wardlow John Wardlow ... Droog
Keith Wardlow Keith Wardlow ... Crug
Karen Elizabeth Austin Karen Elizabeth Austin ... Aba (as Karen Austin)
Barbara Duncan Barbara Duncan ... Uka
Gloria Lee Gloria Lee ... Oga


At a time in prehistory when Neanderthals shared the Earth with early Homo sapiens, a band of cave-dwellers adopt blond and blue-eyed Ayla, a child of the "Others". As Ayla matures into a young woman of spirit and courage (unlike other women of the clan), she must fight for survival against the jealous bigotry of Broud, who will one day be clan leader. Based on Jean M. Auel's popular book, there is minimal narration; subtitles translate the Neanderthal gestures and primitive spoken language. Written by Susan Pudlo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


At The Dawn Of Mankind, A Woman Led The Way.


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

17 January 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ayla und der Clan des Bären See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$25,428, 19 January 1986, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


A planned back-to-back sequel never made it into production. See more »


Brun: You want to be a leader, Broud, but a man who hits his people can never lead the Clan.
See more »

Alternate Versions

UK cinema and video versions were cut by the BBFC with minor edits to the rape scene. The 2004 Optimum release is fully uncut. See more »


Referenced in The Andromeda Strain: Episode #1.3 (2008) See more »


Written by Michael Brook
Performed by Sinéad O'Connor
Courtesy of Virgin Records
See more »

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User Reviews

It's OK, but somewhat commercial.
15 March 2004 | by BlueghostSee all my reviews

It ain't "Quest for Fire," but does an OK job of getting it's story across. I've seen this film a couple of times, and am not really thrilled by it, but I also don't have too many criticisms of it either.

If I were to point my finger at one aspect of the film, an aspect that I thought was holding back a better movie, I'd have to place my finger on its direction. The actors are in earnest of their performances, and do their absolute best to give us a paleolithic saga, but the director points both story and performances to a high energy commercial film. For myself the performances, though genuine, aren't natural. They're forced, and that's no fault of the actors.

This combined with poor light design and mediocre cinematography really torpedos what could've been a better film. And for a film supposedly shot in 70mm every viewing I've ever seen has the film shaking in the gate a great deal. Not to mention the number of hot spots from reflectors bouncing sunlight onto the actors. The nail in the visual coffin is the color timing. The upside is that the location selected was quite impressive, though the film never conveys the geographic location it's supposed to be.

The notion of a blond haired beauty adopted into, quite literally, a low-brow tribe is fair enough. But the fact that she's "superior" and blond puts a wry knowing smile on this viewer's face. Then again it is Hollywood, so the sappiness is probably there by design. It's also somewhat ironic that a woman narrator, one with a seemingly African accent, helps convey the story of a blond heroine. It just seems silly to me.

I've never read the book, so I can't comment on the adaptation. However, I will say this; I found many of the plot points implausible, contrived, and just plain outright wrong, as well as disconnected from what is known, or at least believed to be understood, about our ancestors.

If you must see a caveman epic, then do yourselves a favor and pop "Quest for Fire" into the video machine of your choice. "Clan of the Cavebear" is watchable, but not overly great. I might call it an above average flick, but by no means exceeding.

Watch at your own risk.

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