Friday, April 25, 2008

Live-Blogging 10,000BC

While I was up in Baghdad recently I bought a hajivision DVD of Roland Emmerich's prehistoric epic 10,000BC. I didn't so much want to see it as enjoy the experience of tearing apart the anachronism, just a few minutes in, it's as bad as I expected. I do still want to see it, but I don't want to feel like it's a complete waste of my time, so I'll be live-blogging it. Spoiler alert. Like you care, because if you take my preemptive advice, you won't see this movie.
  • I can't quite place the imagined location. Everything would speak of Eurasia to me, what with the mountains and mammoth and such, except our heroes just reached a jungle full of giant, flightless birds of prey. This could work, in South America or New Zealand, except that the bad guys ride horses, which are strictly Eurasian in antiquity. Oh, nevermind. This movie is clearly not trying to be taken anywhere nearly that seriously.
  • Speaking of the bad guys -- tall pale figures with straight hair and aquiline noses who ride horses and terrorize those who don't -- we actually do seem to be looking at a semi-believable imagining of the Indo-European expansion in Eurasia, which many scholars believe was facilitated, if not defined, by the successful (and likely unique) domestication of the horse. In which case, go us. Am I allowed that sentiment?
  • Forget the issue of location, now they're coming to a desert. This within a few days walking of the jungle and the snow-covered mountains, remember.
  • Ooh, and our hero just saved a sabre-toothed cat from a trap, after asking it not to eat him, Aesop's fable-style. Oh, and now it's defused a confrontation with a bunch of Zulus, who conveniently have a prophesy about "the one who speaks to the spear-tooth", who will lead them in battle against the horsemen.
  • I'm already seeing the whole ideal of this film coming together. We've got the standard celebration of primitive society and over and against the degradations of "civilization". It's the same thing we saw in Apocalypto, except that movie was executed with far more depth and resonance. It only makes sense the man who brought us The Day After Tomorrow would be pretty down on civilization. And there are those out there who -- understanding that "stopping global warming", or even any serious attempt to do so, means locking a billion or so people in dire poverty -- have an urgent need to romanticize "traditional lifestyles", by which they mean "abject squalor" and which they, of course, have no intention of emulating.
  • Ooooh, all the brown and black people are joining together to rescue their captives from the evil white horsemen. They're marching across a massive desert to get there. Good for them.
  • Now we've reached the city of the horsemen, which shows some remarkable architectural achievements for the early stone age. I suppose, when you've domesticated the mammoth to help build your pyramids, things are easier. So are these supposed to be the builders of the Egyptian pyramids? Plausible (minus the lingering location issue) except that Egypt always had a surplus of native labor. Most musings about the pyramids wonder about how they managed to get enough people to build them, but never seem to consider the possibility that they were built precisely because Egypt's leaders needed something to consume the excess labor of a heavily populated land whose climate leaves four months of the year free of agricultural labor.
  • So our hero's captive love interest bears scars that mark her as the one prophesied to portend the collapse of the god-king's evil civilization. How perfect.
  • This is feeling more and more like a ham-handed, Hollywood-ized Apocalypto, with precious few of that film's strengths. Sad.
  • Yep, there's the climax, pathetic attempt at meaningful tragedy included. Oh well, there was some nice imagery, it's always pretty cool to see CGI mammoth running amok through a stone-age construction site. I'll pay $1.50 for that any day of the week. Even if it's got that videotaped-in-the-theater look of the lower-grade hajivision.
  • So, wait a minute, where exactly was the city surrounding the temple complex and pyramid? Or were a few dozen priests and a few hundred slave-drivers all that was necessary to constitute a pyramid-building civilization? I can't be the only person who noticed this. I suppose the temple complex could be a ways out of town, I could see that being convenient for the god-king.
  • Nevermind, forget about the pathetic attempt at tragedy, because the person we just thought had died just got saved by a mammoth looking really intently in her direction and sorta waving his trunk. It could only have been a better moment if his trunk had lit up like ETs fingertip.
  • The movie ends with one of the black tribes (from the desert) giving the gift of agriculture (which apparently is nothing more than a handful of seeds) to the hero's tribe (from the snowy mountains) to replace their lost food source because the mammoth aren't migrating any more (for no explicable reason). Does any of my farming and gardening readers not see this working out quite as rosily as the epilogue implies?
  • Ah, credits. God be praised. So yeah, don't see this movie.

1 comment:

elephantschild said...

What? No Coke bottle falling from the sky?

That's it, I'm outta here.