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The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986)

A young Cro-Magnon woman is raised by Neanderthals.



(novel), (screenplay)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Ayla
... Iza
... Creb
... Broud
... Brun
... Goov
... Grod
Adel Hammoud ... Vorn (as Adel C. Hammoud)
Tony Montanaro ... Zoug
... Dorv
John Wardlow ... Droog
Keith Wardlow ... Crug
Karen Elizabeth Austin ... Aba (as Karen Austin)
Barbara Duncan ... Uka
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:





Release Date:

17 January 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ayla und der Clan des Bären  »


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 prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Based on the first novel in the bookseries Earth's Children by author Jean M. Auel. See more »


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


Referenced in Goof Troop: Clan of the Cave Goof (1992) See more »


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

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User Reviews

An intense story of a young woman's survival
26 June 2004 | by See all my reviews

If the movie lacks anything it is the beauty of the photography in films like "Quest for Fire" and "Windwalker". Otherwise I can't find any serious flaws. It is rare to find a decent movie about prehistoric peoples. "Quest for Fire" is the best movie of this kind in my opinion but "Clan of the Cave Bear" is a close second.

I am not trying to compare "Cave Bear" to the books by Jean M. Auel. To me the film takes the best part of Auel's story and makes a pretty good movie. The later Auel stories become more romance novel fodder and to some that may be more entertaining. "Clan of the Cave Bear" is not romantic. It captures the brutality of prehistory very well for a fiction film. I've seen documentaries about the Neanderthal and was surprised how accurately "Cave Bear" showed that time. The flaws in human nature are shown in all their rawness in this movie. There is prejudice, oppression and abuse in full force. What makes it bearable for me is how the Darryl Hannah character is able to deal with this and eventually over come it.

"Cave Bear" also shows some of the ritual of stone age culture with the Shaman and the hunting rites of passage. There is some beauty in that culture. But the bottom line for these people is survival and that was a very difficult thing to accomplish. They were scratching and clawing (literally) just to eat and raise children. And sadly we know that they are doomed (except for a few Neanderthals who possibly interbred with Cro-Magnons).

This kind of documentary approach in "Cave Bear" will not thrill those who want a stone age comedy-romance, "Caveman", or a special effects absurdity of prehistoric people fighting lots of dinosaurs, "One Million BC", (which is historically impossible). But if you can appreciate an intense story of a young woman's survival in the wild and her experience with a lost stone age culture, then I recommend "Clan of the Cave Bear". 9/10

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