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Reddit lists the Top 10 Movies About Early Humans

10 Best Movies and Shows About Early Humans That Aren't Comedies, According to Reddit

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These movies are so great they predate history.

Image by Jefferson Chacon

The prehistoric era is a fascinating time, though there's so much of it that we don't know. It's amazing to think that our distant ancestors had to survive in a harsh environment of deadly animals and unforgiven elements, with little to no tools to aid them.

The era is fertile ground for storytelling, though there are not many good films that focus on early humans. Redditors got together on r/movies, the largest film subreddit, to discuss which ones are worth seeing.

10 '10,000 BC' (2008)

10, 000 BC Steven Strait0

A young hunter named D'Leh (Steven Strait) sets out to rescue the kidnapped Evolet (Camilla Belle), traversing treacherous landscapes and battling formidable creatures along the way. However, while some scenes are interesting, most Redditors agreed that Roland Emmerich's 10, 000 BC is one of the weaker films about early humans.

user Adultghosttours called it "the History Channel of cavemen movies." "I couldn't get past how the wooly mammoth tripped over the spear. Was that even possible? I just couldn't stop thinking about that," said Redditor rolabond.

9 'Quest for Fire' (1981)

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Set in a time when humans relied on fire not only for warmth and cooking but also for protection from predators, Quest for Fire tells the story of three tribes who embark on a perilous journey to find a new source of fire after their own is accidentally extinguished. Along the way, they encounter other tribes, learn about new tools and weapons, and face numerous deadly challenges.

"Quest for Fire is absolutely at the top of your list to see. Ron Perlman, Everett McGill, and Rae Dawn Chong (Tommy Chong's daughter!) are all excellent. There's obviously very little dialogue and none of it is intelligible to us but the story is conveyed through body language, grunts, and other basic means. The musical score does some heavy lifting, too. I can't think of any other feature-length film that is able to tell a story without dialogue the way this film does," said Redditor astroNerf.

8 'Alpha' (2018)

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Alpha centers on a young hunter named Keda (Kodi Smit-Mcphee), who gets separated from his tribe after a tragic accident and must rely on his survival skills and the help of a lone wolf to find his way back home. The movie stands out with its cinematography, awe-inspiring landscapes, and authentic performances.

User reflexivehammer called it an "underappreciated gorgeous movie." "Bonus points for Alpha because it's also a prehistoric dog movie! Love this film!" said Redditor DManimousPrime.

7 'Iceman' (1984)

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In this sci-fi drama, a team of researchers discover a perfectly preserved prehistoric man in the frozen tundra of Alaska and attempt to bring him back to life using advanced technology. The man, named "Charlie," is thrust into a world that is both fascinating and terrifying, and he struggles to understand the new environment and the people who inhabit it.

"[The film] requires you to believe that someone frozen for 30k years could be defrosted and brought back to life but Iceman is a very thoughtful story of what that might look like," said user JockoHomophone.

6 'Clan of the Cave Bear' (1986)

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Perhaps the most famous film about cavemen, Clan of the Cave Bear tells the story of a young girl named Ayla (Daryl Hannah), who is separated from her family and adopted by a group of Neanderthals. It's neither realistic nor particularly deep, but if you can look past its flaws it does deliver a decent adventure plot.

Several Redditors were fans of the film. "[Clan of the Cave Bear is not] in danger of winning an Oscar, but it might scratch your itch," said Redditor amoshart.

5 'Out of the Cradle' (2018)

out of the cradle 2018 TV movie0

Out of the Cradle is a documentary about early hominids, drawing on the latest research by paleontologists. It tries to paint as factual a picture as possible of what life would have been like for proto-humans.

It's worth seeing just for the CGI scenes (powered by Square Enix) showing hominids hunting prehistoric animals - and sometimes being hunted in turn. u/8bitSkin called it "cinematic" and "completely awesome".

4 'Primal' (2019-)

Spear and Fang face off in 'Primal'

Created by renowned animator Genndy Tartakovsky, this series revolves around a caveman named Spear and his unlikely bond with a ferocious and intelligent dinosaur named Fang. It's certainly not realistic, but it's worth watching for the gorgeous animation and bravura storytelling.

"While the world it takes place in is very much fantasy based (anachronistic timeframe, some fantasy stuff involved), the tone of it, especially the first season, is incredibly harsh and focuses on the struggle of survival for prehistoric man," said user RebeeMo. "Excellent series that's worth is just for the art," agreed Redditor juwyro.

3 'Iceman' (2017)

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2017's Iceman - no connection to the 1984 film - is inspired by a real-life mummy of a prehistoric man discovered on the border between Austria and Italy in the 1990s. His body was naturally preserved in a glacier and he was believed to have lived between 3350 and 3105 BC. With the movie, the filmmakers try to imagine what the man's life would have been like.

"Very blunt, realistic, un-dramatic film. Not everyone's cup of tea, but maybe exactly what OP is looking for," said Redditor MopvivII. "It takes place in the days leading to his death so obviously a lot is made up. All the dialogue is in the ancient language that they spoke at that time in that place (or as close as they could get it), with no subtitles but you always know what's going on," said user cheyne-stoker.

2 '2001: A Space Odyssey' (1968)

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This may come as something of an odd choice since it's sci-fi, but several Redditors praised the opening scene of 2001, which shows a group of prehistoric hominids. While it lasts just over 10 minutes, it packs more food for thought than most other whole films about early humans. In particular, it ends with one of the most iconic match cuts in cinema history, drawing a link between the apes' first tool and a human spaceship millions of years later.

"I always liked the prehistory portions of 2001: A Space Odyssey," said user WhitmansBeard. "I always thought that the 1st 20 minutes gives a good idea of what [the prehistoric era] would be like," agreed Redditor FinnbarMcBride.

1 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams' (2010)

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Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a documentary directed by Werner Herzog about the Chauvet Cave in southern France, home to the world's oldest known cave paintings. The film delves into the history and significance of the cave and its artwork, exploring the ways in which it has influenced our understanding of human history and creativity. Herzog's use of 3D technology allows for an immersive experience, making it feel as though the paintings are coming to life before the viewer's eyes.

"Cave of Forgotten Dreams is an incredible documentary. I listen to the soundtrack regularly. I wish there were more movies that took prehistory as a serious subject," said Redditor cavepainted. "While not a dramatization of early humans, I think it does an excellent job of making you empathize with our early human ancestors. It might scratch a bit of the itch you have," said user astroNerf.

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