The 2008 “epic adventure” film, 10,000 BC, would not be a guilty pleasure if judged only by its box office. It made a fair amount of money. But the reviews for its story, which is set in prehistoric times, were uniformly harsh, many citing it as “archaeologically inaccurate.” Give me a break! This is a watchable film, and I intend to view it a few more times before the Mother Ship comes for me.
IT TAKES A HERO TO CHANGE THE WORLD
With that rather bland tagline, and no spoiler alert, here is a brief synopsis. A tribe called the Yagahl survives in its challenging environment, high in the Ural mountains, by hunting mammoths. Their shaman is an elderly woman called Old Mother. A vision has told her that a girl with blue eyes will appear one day, that her presence will be of some significance.
But the tribe has other problems: the mammoth herds are coming less often, and the Yagahl need the beasts to survive. Still, her prophecy comes to pass when hunters bring in a blue-eyed girl named Evolet. Old Mother tells them that the girl’s entire tribe was destroyed by four-legged demons (men on horseback). A boy named D’Leh is smitten by Evolet, and as they grow older, they fall in love.
Uh-oh, bad news: Old Mother also predicts that the same four-legged demons will appear after the Yagahl go on their last hunt. Still, the tribe is relieved when the mammoths show up, for it had been a while. Now an adult, D’Leh goes on the hunt with others of the tribe and manages—kind of by accident—to kill the largest creature. This wins him the leadership of the tribe, a symbolic White Spear and—of course—Evolet, who had been promised to the best hunter.
THE PROPHECY COMES TO PASS
D’leh’s father had been the leader of the Yagahl but had left the mountains many years earlier to find a source of food for the tribe. D’Leh had often thought about going after him, and now something happens to set him off on a quest with multiple goals. Old Mother’s prophecy comes true when the four-legged demons—a bunch of slave traders—appear in the village, kill some of the people and enslave many others. Evolet is taken by the Warlord, who wants her for his own.
D’Leh, who had been outside the village at the time, is devastated by what has happened. He sets off with three others, determined to save Evolet and his people. They trudge through the mountains in painstaking fashion, following clues left by Evolet. Eventually they descend and are confronted with a steaming jungle, something that none of them had ever imagined could exist. D’Leh briefly rescues Evolet, until both parties are attacked by giant bird creatures. In the aftermath Evolet is recaptured by the Warlord, as are two of D’Leh’s companions. The third, Tic’Tic, is badly injured. Things are not going well for our hero.
Finally free of the jungle, D’Leh leaves his friend to hunt for food. Soon after, he falls into a pit-trap, where a huge saber-toothed cat is also imprisoned. Against his better judgment he frees them both, and after a literal tête-à-tête the beast runs off.
The quest continues, and soon the men arrive at a seemingly deserted village. While searching for food they are surrounded by the inhabitants, who are about to kill them when the saber-toothed cat appears. The natives are stunned when D’Leh confronts the beast, which eventually leaves without harming anyone. D’Leh is now a rock star to this tribe, the Naku, whose own prophecies include one about the arrival of a man who would tame “Spear-Tooth.”
While being wined and dined (figuratively speaking) by the Naku, D’Leh and Tic’Tic find out a great deal from the tribe’s chief. D’Leh’s father had been a guest of the Naku and had learned a new way of providing food by growing crops, a method unknown to the Yagahl. As he was about to leave for the mountains with seeds for planting, he was taken prisoner by the slave traders, along with other Naku. Those same slavers again raided the village a day or two earlier, and they took the chief’s son. They also stole people from a number of other nearby villages.
The chief summons the warriors of all the other tribes, and with D’Leh as their leader they pursue the slavers to a wide river. There, they see that all of their families and friends have been put aboard sailing ships, which are already on their way downriver to an unknown fate. D’Leh and his followers can do no more than let the captives know that they are still trying to save them. When Evolet sees D’Leh she is filled with hope.
But how will they accomplish this? They cannot follow the ships. The only way to intercept them would be to cross a vast, unforgiving desert. And even if this survive it, what will await them? Where are the slavers taking all these poor unfortunates?
This is where I will leave you. Suffice to say, what D’Leh and the others will find across the sands is a stunner. As noted, 10,000 BC is not for everyone. But if you enjoy an occasional fantasy-adventure, and if you can overlook the “archaeological inaccuracies” (gawd!), you’ll have no problem with this film.