A prehistoric Neanderthal man found frozen in ice is revived by an arctic exploration team, who then attempt to use him for their own scientific means.
This film was certainly a turning point in John’s career, films that followed were Year of the Dragon, Echoes of Paradise and The Last Emperor. I don’t think there are many actors that can hold themselves in a non-speaking role, but he does, seamlessly throughout this film.
Directed by Fred Schepisi, the same director who brought us Empire Falls, Roxanne, Six Degrees of Separation and The Eye of the Storm – I’d love to ask him about his final changes to the film – specifically the ending.
One thing that stood out to me is that as a film it holds up over time, a few old computers and 80’s hair-do’s aside, it really seems quite timeless – which, to me, is great story-telling and direction.
Starring Timothy Hutton as Dr. Stanley Shephard – a passionate young anthropologist, this film explores the boundaries of science and ethics. The discovery of a 40,000 Neaderthal man frozen in ice poses the question of whether to revive him or not. Oddly enough what happens next reminded me a little of Brexit, the scientists didn’t think they would revive him and once they did, didn’t know their next steps – what were the implications in the real world for this man to exist. This is not a Frankenstein style situation, when the Neaderthal man awakes, he seems to be as he was when he first died.
The story therefore continues in this theme, the slow unraveling of the modern world to the Neaderthal man (now named Charlie) – played by Lone. There are some great scenes of him exploring into the scientists base – the knowledge that the scientists crave is also a driver for Charlie too – a trait that has remained constant in all humankind. Charlie confronts his image in a mirror and shatters it – can you imagine seeing your reflection for the first time (especially me this morning).
The relationship between Charlie and Sam is very touching, especially the ‘Heart of Gold’ scene where Sam sings it and Charlie reacts. There is a mutual respect between these two characters as men – and that’s what I enjoyed most about it. Similarities and differences are further explored and ultimately Charlies quest for knowledge of the new world is his downfall or as Sam would think, his freedom.
I really enjoyed Timothy Hutton’s performance in this film, most recently I’ve seen him in The Haunting of Hill House – his character, Hugh Crain, was my favourite. I have yet to see his academy winning performance in Ordinary People, but that’s on my January watch-list.
On the subject of Oscar’s, where was John’s for this film? That’s something I will never understand.