"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." The Statue of Liberty (P.S. Please be so kind as to enter through the proper channels and in an orderly fashion)

Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

Thursday, April 10, 2008

10,000 BC

A movie about cavemen, wooly mammoths, and saber-tooth tigers?

I'm there!

I saw the movie just yesterday. It was a fun ride.

It was directed by Roland Emmerich (who also directed Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow) from a script he wrote with Harold Kloser.

It featured the heroic development of the orphaned D'Leh (Steven Strait) of the Yagahl people (not really cavemen but a tribe of open-air hunter/gatherers) and his love-story with Evolet (Camilla Belle), a changeling-child of sorts with anomalous blue-eyes (which was a prophesied sign of destiny).

The character development of D'Leh follows the established, mythical pattern of the hero, beginning his life as a tribal outcast but then passing a test (though dubiously, in D'Leh's case) and becoming a tribal leader before setting off on an epic adventure that would prove his legitimacy as chief.

From the beginning he is guided by a mentor, Tic'tic (Cliff Curtis), who is incapacitated midway through the film and eventually dies, signifying that the hero has "outgrown him" and is ready to stand on his own two feet and become a savior figure for humanity at large, all ingredients in the mythical formula of the hero.

Mythologist Joseph Campbell diagrammed the universal hero's journey well in his books on mythology and showed that the pattern persisted from Homer's epics to Lucas's Star Wars (although the ancient mythographers supposedly drew from some common Jungian unconscious while Lucas--and Emmerich/Kloser, presumably-- drew directly from Campbell).

In the first act, while still in the village and D'Leh is struggling with his dubiously-earned leadership, outsiders on horseback ("The Four-Legged Demons") raid the community and carry off some of its members, including Evolet, and D'Leh is challenged to finally live up to the leadership that he himself feels undeserving of by rescuing her and the other captives.

Following the tracks of the kidnappers, D'Leh and his companions travel down through the jungles of Africa and befriend the natives, who also lost members of their own community to the "Four Legged Demons," and the rescue party is enlarged.

Meanwhile, throughout the adventure, as the Yagahl hunt on the plains at the beginning, and the rescue party goes through jungles midway, the viewing audience is treated to encounters with wooly mammoths, saber tooth tigers, and phorusrhacoses (or diatrymas; not quite sure what the giant, carnivorous ostrich-like creatures were), as befitting of the hero's journey into an unknown that is rife with beasts and monsters.

Following a cryptic, astrological sign (another common ingredient of the hero formula), they pass through deserts and finally come upon the city of the kidnappers, which resembles ancient Egypt.

The "Four-Legged Demons," it turns out, are nothing but overseers who go all over the known world raiding villages and kidnapping the people from there for the slave-labor required to build their pyramids.

The wooly mammoths, too, have been enslaved for the construction, their tusks sawn in half.

D'Leh and his party free the slaves, cause the mammoths to stampede (because they know how to make them do so, being hunters of them and all) and the pyramids come crumbling down.

The appearance of the long-nailed and veiled Pharoah--the Overlord of All--appears to have been lifted from the rendering of Xerxes from the movie 300, as is his death: Although the hurled spear of Leonidas from 300 draws blood but only nicks him, D'Leh's hits the mark, and kills him.

Then the veil is slightly lifted to reveal the secret identity beneath...

I expected to see a disfigured, Phantom of the Opera/Darth Vader type of revelation (the "power corrupts" suggestion), but you are only offered a glimpse of the pink skin-- which was jarring enough if only because all of the other characters--coming to think of it-- had dark complexions.

It was a fleeting glimpse that was forgotten quickly enough, however, as the love story of D'Leh and Evolet continued and the people of the world were freed from their bondage and everyone went home to their villages, but in that glimpse the game is given away.

The entertaining and distracting mythical adventure and the special effects caused a 24 hour delay for the meaning of the pink skin and the underlying political message to hit me:

The great civilization that was symbolized by the Overlord's city was ruled by The Man (a.k.a. Whitey), and built on the backs of slaves, who The Man brought to work for him against their will from the four corners of the Earth.

It all fit the leftist worldview:

The indigenous tribes symbolized "The People" of the Third World who were happy, healthy, and reverential of--and at one with--Nature, until everything went awry because of The Man.

Although the Yagahl--who resembled Native Americans with dreadlocks-- hunted mammoths, killing one of them a year was a sacred ritual, and they used every part of the mammoth in gratitude for the mammoth's "sacrifice," a pagan thanksgiving of sorts that preserved its dignity (cf. Native Americans "Thanking" the spirit of the animal before eating it).

That was juxtaposed with the humiliated beasts of burden the Overlord turned them into.

And there were the African tribes who, on parting with their Yagahl friends at the end, gave them seeds to plant and we see the fruits beginning to grow back in the Yagahl village, celebrating a shared, holistic, organic way of life, and living happily ever after in harmony with Nature.

They were Rousseau's Noble Savages.

And Egypt wasn't Egypt. It was run by Whitey, for one, and the pyramids had a tip on top that the ones on the Nile don't...

...but the one on the American dollar bill does (i.e. the Freemason's rendering with the eye).

The anomaly of the blue-eyed but swarthy Evolet at first seemed disruptive of the worldview, since blue eyes invoke Arianism, but what she symbolized was the genetic mixing of the races, which is a solution of that worldview.

Obviously, the characters and events of the movie are entirely wishful, as the social problems of race (caused by Whitey) were not solved 12,000 years ago, but supposedly grew unabated since then.

Indeed, the co-writer Kloser says in the film's production notes: "Roland (Emmerich) and I never intended for '10,000 BC' to be a documentary."

No, it was intended to be an allegory, and the poster says:

"It Takes a Hero To Change The World."

In other words, it's meant to inspire and cheer on Third World radicals (i.e. "The People") to "liberate" the world from the yoke of Imperialist America, today (or at least as long as Bush is president).