10,000 BC — This Ain't Evolution

Illustration for article titled 10,000 BC — This Ain't Evolution

Click to viewSo we caught the new Roland "Independence Day" Emmerich vehicle 10,000 BC, opening in a theater near you today. It's a science fiction film in the most literal sense of those words. This flick takes the sciences of evolutionary biology and anthropology and turns them into fiction. Sadly, it wasn't the 300 style of anthropology fiction, where you know everything is wildly inaccurate but find yourself in a forgiving mood because the action is so terrific and the concept design kicks ass. 10,000 BC was actually so historically inaccurate that not even the giant ostrich attack scene made up for it. Spoilers and cranky comments about scientific accuracy ahead.


From the earliest moments in the film, when we get the cheesy "epic voiceover" telling us that this is the "story of blue eyes" and some other mystical garbage, it's obvious that 10,000 BC is a bad ripoff of Apocalypto. Which is to say, it's the tale of a small-town hunter-gatherer boy whose woman is stolen by bad guys from the big city full of pyramids and priests with weird makeup and strange fingernails. And it pains me to say this, but Apocalypto is a freakin masterpiece of scientific accuracy compared to 10,000 BC. At least Apocalypto director Mel Gibson had his timescale right for the Mayan Empire.

In 10,000 BC, you've got Egyptian pyramids being built by guys using woolly mammoths. I mean, it's the goddamn ice age, and then our main character walks over a hill and suddenly he's in the Nile Valley of 2,000 BC? And these anachronistic bad guy Egyptians (from the ice age) have got ships, horseback riding, and freakin STEEL. Steel? C'mon, guys, you couldn't even consult Wikipedia? I mean, why not just call the movie 2,000 BC and make it about ancient Egypt? Or keep it in 10,000 BC and come up with some other kind of bad guys? Jeezus.

So anyway, our hero lives in some undefined ice age region hunting mammoths (pretty decent CGI mammoths by the way), seemingly in Europe but a mere few days' walk from Egypt. A band of guys on horseback come zooming through one day, steal a bunch of his clansmen, and take off in the direction of the aforementioned historically-inaccurate city. Did I mention that 10,000 BC was right around the time agriculture was being invented? And that the first cities — with no giant monuments — didn't exist until roughly 4,000 BC?

OK, look, I know it's annoying when people go to science fiction movies and brap loudly about how light speed wouldn't work like that, and monsters that big would be crushed by gravity. However, at least with that shit we have the excuse that we don't really know how FTL could work, and we aren't sure what life would be like on other planets. But what was going on in the world 10,000 years ago? We don't know every damn granular detail, but we do know there were no giant cities where woolly mammoths from the ice age helped build pyramids. I mean, the movie Ice Age is practically more accurate than this crap.

Plus there's a lot of tribal ooga-booga where white people with dreads (who are somehow in charge of the brown people) talk about great spirits and generally act like a cross between the bad parts of Burning Man and the bad parts of the new agey 1970s. On the plus side, there are some cool CGI pyramids and the main character is almost killed by a sabre tooth tiger.

My biggest fear is that a bunch of teachers will take their classes to see this movie to teach them about human history. Because, you know, it's educational. I can't decide if it's worse to propagate 10,000 BC as evolutionary theory, or to propagate intelligent design as a theory of evolution. I think it may be an even match in the end.




@samwisescatgee: It's one thing to differ from reality in a way that is cleverly devised, or that raises interesting questions. It's another entirely to do so just because you didn't do the research. In any case, with a name like '10,000 BC', I expect to see what life was actually like in 10000 BC. If you're not interested in representing that accurately, give your movie a different name (like 'Wild Moon' or 'Woolly Dawn' or some such — hey, I'm not paid to come up with movie titles). I'd be perfectly happy with a movie of this genre that doesn't claim to be historically accurate — that's what the fantasy genre is all about. (Of course, it would still need to make sense: woolly mammoths in the sweltering heat of the desert is a little silly.)

For a piece of prehistoric fiction that is historically and scientifically accurate while still presenting its own speculative interpretation of the gaps in the record, I recommend Dance of the Tiger by Bjorn Kurten [www.amazon.com]. This book has plenty of drama and action, while still sticking to the established historical record (the author was an accomplished paleoanthropologist). I would much rather see an adaptation of this than a movie that purports to historical accuracy while delivering pure fantasy (I should note I haven't watched the movie myself).