January 16, 2009

Rescue mission in 10,000 B.C.

Continuing my analysis of the problems in 10,000 B.C.:

Long-distance operators

D'Leh's people, the Yagahl, are afraid of the "four-legged demons" (men on horseback). Later, the African tribesmen are awed by the "great birds" (sailboats). Both examples of this superstitious attitude are nonsense, as I explained here.

The slave-raiding horsemen wear helmets or armor with horns or spikes. It couldn't be more clear that these men are supposed to be evil. That the bad guys dress like monsters from hell is a pure Hollywood convention.

These slave raiders march their captives all the way to the Nile River, which is a ridiculously long journey. Is it really productive to ride horses to the top of a mountain to capture a few slaves? Wouldn't the raiders be better off looking for slaves at lower altitudes?

And wouldn't they be better off looking for slaves closer to their final destination? Their trek is easily 1,200 miles or more, which is a long way to go for a payoff. With the captives walking, the journey would take several months. After all the food and supplies they'd use, it's hard to imagine the slavers profiting.

Whitey to the rescue

In the desert, D'Leh frees a saber-tooth tiger from a trap. The big cat later helps him. This isn't exactly a mistake, but it's one of the oldest plots in the world. Androcles and the Lion, anyone? The lack of originality here is stupefying.

D'Leh soon encounters an African tribe. Though they've shaved their heads, these black men have painted faces, scarification tissue, and accouterments made of bones. As with the Yagahl, these are all indicators of a primitive, exotic tribe.

The Africans have a legend that the one who talks to a "Spear Tooth" will free their people. In other words, they've been waiting for a long-haired white man who comes out of the desert and speaks to the (animal) spirit. Jesus Christ and Holy Moses, Batman!

So a blue-eyed girl is supposed to save the brown-eyes and a white man is supposed to save the black men. Though the Caucasian and African tribesmen form a multicultural army to free their kin, the movie has an undertone of racism. The closer one is to the Anglo standard of beauty, the more likely one is to be a hero or savior.

Sticks and stones

Like their northern brothers, the African tribesmen don't wear shirts, even at night when the desert gets cold. That's because you don't get the full effect of a spearchucking savage horde unless they're as naked as possible.

The tribesmen and the slavers both use spears. The slavers also use swords and slings. But no one uses a bow and arrow until the slaver's captain at the end. The filmmakers apparently saved this moment so they could show a lot of dramatic hand-to-hand fights followed by one dramatic shot.

This is a glaring omission. The slavers and Africans have coexisted with an advanced civilization for decades. Why have the slavers adopted metal swords but not the bow and arrow? Why haven't the Africans adopted either?

They might as well wear signs saying, "We're primitive people who have barely risen from the mud. We bow to you, our superiors, who have mastered the bow and arrow. Please enslave us because we're so backward and ignorant compared to you."

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

Below:  "Floating pieces of wood? Don't be silly. They're big birds!"


Anonymous said...

It does not have a undertone of racism. My God people. So a white guy is the hero. So what? They portray the opposite at a completely disporportionate rate in movies. But its only racists if its a white person thats shown as a saviour right?

Rob said...

Yes, it does have an undertone of racism. Repeat: "A blue-eyed girl is supposed to save the brown-eyes and a white man is supposed to save the black men."

I'm not sure what "They portray the opposite at a completely disproportionate rate in movies" means. That white people are usually the villains? Maybe so, but they're also usually the heroes. They're the heroes more often than they're the villains.

Re "But its only racists if its a white person thats shown as a saviour right?" When was the last time a black, Latino, or Asian starred as a hero who saved white people when they couldn't save themselves? It must've been years ago because I can't think of any recent examples.