Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Nathanael Baring
(PG-13, 109 min.)
"But I am constant as the northern star." William Shakespeare
Imagine a Saturday matinee from bygone days. A bigger than life, whimsical epic sweeps across the screen, brushing aside in its huge wake such trivial distractions as historical accuracy and geographical reality. You’ve got Ice Age mammoths, tropical rain forests, a friendly saber-toothed tiger, and great pyramids reaching into the desert skies. What’s not to like?
Of course, the critics, who blandly accepted each and every one of Oliver Stone’s conspiracy theories, the very same who cheered director Roland Emmerich on when he chronicled the catastrophic effects of global warming in The Day After Tomorrow, are now competing with each other over who can best trash his most recent effort, 10,000 B.C. As Emmerich himself lamented, “It’s not supposed to be a documentary,” a quotation that could very well be in the running for understatement of the year.
But if instead, you forget your History Channel pretensions, suspend your disbelief Big Time, and see the whole spectacle as a variant form of science fiction, there is much to like in 10,000 B.C. First of all, the special effects are pretty good – even snarky critics will acknowledge that. The wooly mammoths look real enough, even if it jars your historical sensibilities to see them as beasts of burden helping to create great pyramids, their construction being approximately 7500 years off.
At its core, this is a love story, and we have something very endearing in its innocence and devotion. D’Leh (Steven Strait), scorned because his warrior father has deserted the tribe finds solace with Evolet (Camilla Belle) the blue-eyed stranger rescued from her dead mother’s arms. He points to the North Star, noting, like Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, how it is “fixed in the firmament,’ though his words are bit simpler, and vows his love to be as constant. And D’Leh proves it, too, when Evolet and several others are captured by raiding warriors from afar who take them back to become slaves.
Emmerich, who may still be a bit fixated on climate change from his last directorial foray, takes our stalwart hero from the land of “white rain,” through tropical rain forests teaming with one of Big Bird’s more cantankerous ancestors, onto a “sea of sand,” and finally to the “Lost Civilization” itself, land of effete monarchs thirsting for faster progress on their huge pyramids. Hat tip to Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, a similar story of capture, pyramids and pursuit, though his bad guys seem a lot scarier and they are more interested in the heads rolling down their pyramids than building them.
10,000 B.C. also contains some subtle points about honor. (I’ll bet I am the only critic who has used that word in connection to this film, but I’ll stand by it.) The young warriors, D’Leh included despite his scorned position in the tribe, are ready to test their manhood in the hunt of the mammoth. He who shows himself the best will earn the right to carry the white spear and claim his bride. D’Leh brings down the great creature in what appears to be a single-handed act of bravery. Only he and Tic’Tic (Cliff Curtis) know that his bravery has been forced, that it was a tangle in the net and not his courage that caused D’Leh to hold on to the marauding beast so long.
At first he accepts the spear and Evolet, but when Tic’Tic does not attend the tribal celebration, D’Leh knows he does not deserve these honors and forgoes them. The fact that without the older warrior’s tacit disapproval D’Leh may have accepted honors he did not deserve is not only realistic, but it also shows the tutelary function of the elder warrior within the tribe.
Much has been made of the fierce saber-toothed tiger, saved from a trap by our softhearted hero and later on defending him against a seemingly hostile tribe. Well, George Bernard Shaw got by with such sentimentality in Androcles and the Lion, so let’s cut Emmerich a little slack as well.
True, this is certainly not a filet mignon of a film, but it is a sizzling Big Whopper, in more ways than one, and who doesn’t occasionally hanker for some of those delicious empty calories.
Okay, so the cast and crew of 10,000 B.C. play a little fast and loose with history and geography. I guess that gives me a little license with my recipe as well.
What else are these great mammoth hunters to eat but the great wooly beasts themselves? And if you can’t quite get your hands on some fresh mammoth meat, try a little ground beef? Here is a tried and true recipe for a simple and great burger, just in time for the opening of grilling season, unless you are one of those poor snow-besieged residents above the Mason Dixon line.
At any rate, you can use a skillet and get almost as good a flavor. I’ve also known a few intrepid souls who would venture out on their snowy balconies to fire up the grill. Brrr!
BTW, certainly not historically accurate, since corn was a New World grain, but this recipe for Roasted Corn with Cilantro Butter would be a great side dish.
This is a basic but great hamburger with the bacon and onion right inside the patty. You can also add cheese to the filling or top it off with a nice slice.
- 1 1/2 pounds ground round
- 1/2 cup cooked and minced bacon
- 1/2 cup bar-b-que sauce (your favorite flavor)
- 1 small minced onion or 2 tablespoons of dried minced onion
- Any of your favorite toppings for hamburger
Mix ingredients together. Shape into patties and grill over prepared grill until done. Top with steak sauce such as A1 or Heinz or just plain ketchup and mustard will do. Served well with baked beans and steak fries.
Recipe Source: About.com