Friday, August 7, 2020

Ao, the Last Neanderthal - an inter-species adventure romance

Greetings, commies!

Ao, the Last Neanderthal is a one of a kind speculative anthropological film set 30,000 BC in prehistoric Europe. When his clan, including his wife and baby girl Néa, are massacred, Ao, a desperate Neanderthal, decides to leave the North country where he has been living for the South where he was born. His aim is to join his twin brother, from whom he was separated when he was nine. On his long and adventurous way home, he meets Aki, a Homo sapiens woman.

My thoughts

The movie is based on an actual novel that I hope to read some day. Hopefully it will be translated into English. Given how little is known about the psychology/physiology of Neanderthals, this is a highly, highly speculative piece of historical ... no, more like prehistorical fiction. The author of the novel takes certain genetic and anthropological differences pairing a Neanderthal male with a Cro Magnon female. It's yet to be determined if those alliances took place and if they led to viable progeny. I think the split between the actual articulated speech and the internal speech worked well. You have characters, both Neanderthal and Cro Magnon, spout incoherent beastly sounds at each other, but then you hear their internal voices that bridge the genetic and cognitive differences between the species. Despite the overt violence, the spirit of the film is strangely life-affirming, almost naively so, if you don't look beyond the first layer of the happy ending. It's a happy ending - but an ending nevertheless, for a whole chapter of human evolution.

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