Fiction about the period of pre-history is hardly a thriving niche in cinema. From the modern British historical-dramas to the hey day of Hammer’s Horror and the nostalgic western, there does not exist a large collection of works from the period of pre-historic times (if you’ll omit the recent efforts of Jack Black). But does this come as any surprise, that we can’t create fiction around a period of non-recorded thought?
As a film, AO is very well made. Although there is nothing revolutionary or particularly dynamic about the making of the film itself, it passes as a legitimately professional stab into the partially waters of Neolithic. Using dynamic sets, fantastically believable mise-en-scene and directly breaking the rule of never working with either children or animals, it is superbly executed in its portrayal of this period. (Is it wrong that I want to call it a period drama?) I don’t profess to be an expert, but nothing I see suggests anything not theoretically passable; so much so I felt at no time the need to give any artistic license.
Hitchcock said that you couldn’t make a good film out of a bad script. I’m not saying this is a bad film, but it most definitely was a good script! Written so that the actions, habits and interactions of the characters could truly be believed to be from the time I fell several times for the fallacy that I could be watching something truly realistic. Now, I know I said there was nothing revolutionary in the film making, but now I’m talking about the script. I can’t express how refreshing it was to witness a film where almost the entire story was told through the imagery of the motion picture. Yes, at times there are voice-overs, like the diary entries of early man, but never do we understand what any of the characters are ever saying in dialogue. That is: a new language has been invented, so that we can witness it not as an audience who’ve been brought into the fallacy by having ancient Romans speak in strong British accents (Troy particularly was a pain!), but rather as our selves, just as if we were really looking into a portal of history.
Short of the experience of this less explored style of the screenplay, the film falls short on it’s lack of following proper recognised narrative and I could poke several holes into parts of the storyline. I don’t know if there’s a name for this phenomenon, but it’s where the character could do ‘this thing’ at one point (like Dr Who can call the Tardis whenever he wants using the key) yet can’t at another point when it is seemingly the most obvious thing to do (like Dr Who calling the Tardis when it gets lost at the bottom of a giant pit). If there is not a name for it, I have one, bloody annoying and bloody obvious!
To finish, I’d say watch this film if the idea of the way the story is told interests you, watch it if you have an interest in pre-history (or anthropology I suppose) and watch it if you’re interested in a particularly raunchy and uniquely necessary sex scene (the only reason for the 15 certificate really). But, importantly don’t bother if you don’t fit into one of those factors. There are better films out there, cooler films that embody everything this one does and so much more. Sorry, but I had to be honest guys.
AO is released for DVD/Rent/Stream in the U.K. on 23rd July.
P.S. If anyone does go through with it, do tell me what you though of the ending? I felt cheap and used tbh
P.P.S. It would literally have taken them an hour to make this suitable for me to watch in English (or any other language for that matter) why not bother translating just the voice-overs?
Sean PullenPin It