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Cinema in Focus: ‘10,000 B.C.’

This journey back in time is more of a cartoon jaunt.

2 Stars — Shallow

According to the trailers for Roland Emmerich’s film, 10,000 B.C., this is “a prehistoric epic that follows a young mammoth hunter’s journey through uncharted territory to secure the future of his tribe.” More accurately, it is a cheesy Saturday matinee cartoon-like extravaganza with lots of computer-generated animals in less-than-believable fight scenes.

Forget about facts here. Prehistoric mammoths roam the earth with modern tribesmen while building ancient pyramids. Those three occurrences alone span very different periods of history, but that doesn’t seem to matter in this film. When you include a main character named “D’Leh” (Steven Strait) who has perfect teeth and looks like a fashion model (Strait actually worked as a model for Vogue), then the cartoon nature of this film is complete.

If there is any redeeming feature to 10,000 B.C., it is in the fact that families — as tribes — are considered of value. D’Leh is willing to lead the fight against evil people and animals to preserve his most significant relationships. Once again, you have to suspend disbelief to allow yourself to think that modern romantic relationships existed with nomadic tribes 10,000 years ago.

There is little in this story to give insight as to how mankind evolved in its journey toward spiritual enlightenment or values development. Instead, we are witness to a hodgepodge of images of ancient rituals and symbols that emerged 5,000 years after this story supposedly took place.

The role of women and children in an ancient tribal society would have been interesting to note, but the writer and director chose instead to play this out as if this were a group of 1960s hippies looking for enlightenment in a foreboding landscape. The roles that women play in the film are more suited to an 1890s melodrama.

Good stories about how mankind evolved in its thinking and practices could be both entertaining and thoughtfully engaging. Unfortunately, 10,000 B.C. has more in common with films such as Barbarella than it does with The Ten Commandments.

Discussion:

• If you were able to go back to 10,000 years Before Christ, what do you think you would see? How would you have told this tale?

• When telling a story of prehistoric times, how accurate do you think it should be? Is a cartoon-telling appropriate?

• According to the Bible, the development of religious thought required God’s intervention. Do you believe God intervened in history? Why do you answer as you do?

Cinema In Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church on the Mesa. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com.

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