10,000 B[rainless] C[ontent]?

5 minute read

The movie, 10,000 B.C., blew away the competition last weekend, with an estimated $35.7 million in US box office receipts.

I think it is a disaster movie of epic scale -- at least, from the point of view of anthropology!

My favorite quote from a reviewer comes from Peter Canavese's "Groucho Reviews":

It was actually raconteur HL Mencken who said, "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public," but it was P.T. Barnum who lived it, putting over entertaining hoaxes on an eager public. Barnum's modern-day disciple is Roland Emmerich, specialist in the epic of stupidity. For an encore to the global-warming action picture The Day After Tomorrow (in which Dennis Quaid walks -- through a blizzard -- from Washington D.C. to Manhattan), our favorite Teutonic huckster presumes that prehistory means that anything narrative goes: hey, who can prove him wrong?
As narrator Omar Sharif intones at picture's outset, "Only time can teach us what is truth and what is legend." See? If Omar Sharif said it, it must be true!

Oh, that hits a little close to home -- considering the extent to which TV documentaries about archaeology expect us to believe Alec Baldwin's or Liev Schreiber's authoritative-sounding voices. Hey, if they can sell us cars, they can sell us science, right?

But for a little bit lighter view of the movie's reception, we can turn to the movie's IMDB forum (I credit Simon Greenhill with this idea). Or, maybe it makes for an even more depressing picture; I guess it depends on your point of view.

For instance, we have this criticism:

Next is the fact that they did not speak English back then. I am aware that they could have grunted throughout the movie(i.e. Quest for Fire) but common, with the movie goers to day you can barely have a movie that doesn't have explosions or boobs in it do good. It is just unrealistic for the times.

Well, naturally there is an answer for everything:

Plus, consider this: its still EARTH and their descentants several dozen centuries later will be speaking English so it's way less of a stretch than everyone speaking English in STAR WARS which is ANOTHER GALAXY and I don't see the English dissers here trolling the STAR WARS sites.

Point taken. Those who don't question mystical midichlorians are poorly placed to object to anachronistic pyramids.

Of course, any film dealing with prehistoric life may bring out a certain kind of critic. We all know the type:

The correct term is 10,000 BP, before present. I find the term BC, before Christ, extremely offensive. I am an atheist and I do not want to feel obliged to use all this Christian terminology that is being pushed on me 24/7.

Or maybe that wasn't the type of critic you were expecting? Before you head off to set that writer straight, rest assured that a wide array of well-meaning alumni of undergraduate science courses are ahead of you, brimming with variably-accurate news about radiocarbon chronologies.

One might, perhaps, do better, but this forum is not a place for the sane to wander. Consider one hypothesis about the origins of the movie's story:

The idea was that there were these whitish people who both Asian people and white people were related to. In India it's considered that these people founded India as we know it. Anyway, these people were like the elves from The Lord of The Rings. They were vegetarians and even had an organ which allowed a type of psychic communication. The idea of being "psychic" cropped up heavily when these stories were popular in the 1800s, and still it continues today.
White people lost these powers, according to the story, when they mated with people from the mideast. That's because scientists, and this is true, found hybrid Jewish Neanderthal bodies in the mideast. It was concluded that the human race got "devolved" by mixing with the animal people who once lived on Earth.

I'm going to start putting "and this is true" randomly into my blog posts. It will really increase my links from kooks.

Could it get worse? Of course it could: we just need some "anthropologists" to show up and start educating people! Like this:

All human lineages appear to converge on Africa in the distant past. However, 12,000 years ago there were varied races living in widely distributed civilizations all over the world. This film takes place either in Europe or North America (I don't know which), where there would at that time have been no negroids (although in N. America there also would've been no caucasoids).

Or, OOH OOH, this!

Your spoken and stated strident supposition that there totally no "Caucasoids" in North America over 10,000 B.C. is completely in-correct. Are you at all aware of the conversed "Clovis" and supposedly stated "Solutrian" connection? The interest on the internet in this intriguing interelationship is increasing immeasurably since the National Geographic Channel's documentary demonstratably detailing and declaring that the Mammoths were massacred or a mass extinction event by a major mile wide meteor about 10 millenia ago. So, it surely seems the Cacusoids were killed along with the mammoths and the majority of mega-fauna in most of N. America at about 9,700 B.C., basically.

Check out the alliteration there! I can't wait until I get demonstrably detailed and declared -- AND THIS IS TRUE! -- by a major mile wide meteor!

Later, a "history major" shows up to bring sanity to the place:

Any movie about this time period is going to have to be almost completely made up because we know almost nothing about it. Understand? If you think you know something about that time period, (and please, grow up, I'm only talking about cultural history here ok? Not geology, or ancient animals. If you're a geology or ancient animal freak...i don't know what to tell you. Movies in general probably aren't for you, Ok?)...you don't.

Understand? If you know when sabretooths and mammoths ruled the earth, then maybe movies in general aren't for you.

I have to say, I'm increasingly feeling that way....

But there's always hope. Here's another commenter's assessment of the movie:

So boring a caveman could do it.