Clan of the Cave Bear (1986)



Director: Michael Chapman

Starring:  Daryl Hannah (Ayla), Pamela Reed (Iza), James Remar (Creb), Thomas G. Waites (Broud), John Doolittle (Brun), Curtis Armstrong (Goov).

with Daryl Hannah



Spoiler Warning:

"At the dawn of Mankind there were the Neanderthals.  During the long Ice Age they lived in caves scattered across Europe and the Near East.  Then 35,00 years ago, a new people appeared, the Cro-Magnon.  For a brief moment in time these two groups shared the stage of pre-history.  What happened to the Neanderthals is still a mystery, but it was the Cro-Magnon who survived and began the long climb towards the world we know now."


"Long ago,. in the days of the great ice mountains, the first of our people followed the herds of game into a new land.  There was a girl child among them and she was called Ayla.  The legends still speak of her."

The little blond girl Ayla loses her mother in an earth quake.

"Before our people came this had been the land of the old ones, the clan of the cave bear.  When the earth shook, they had lost their home.  Many had died.  But Brun, the leader, still had with him Broud, the son of his mate, who would be leader after him.  Then came Creb, the great Mog-urer, the crippled holy man, and Iza, his sister, the medicine woman.  Without a cave the clan was weak.  They knew that soon the wind spirits would bring snow and snow would bring death."

Ayla crosses paths with a lion.  She runs into a crevice where the lion can't get her.  The lion, however, did scratch her left thigh badly.  The Neanderthals are walking by and Iza sees Ayla still alive.  She wants to take Ayla with them, but the leader says to leave the girl behind.  She is not of their clan.  She's one of the Others.  Iza says that her spirits tell her to take the girl with her. 

"The child that Iza nursed was one of us, the new people.  The first the Clan of the Cave Bear had ever seen.  She was proof of the tales they had long heard of the Others, the Strange Ones, who threatened the world which had always been theirs.  At sunset, they called to the spirits to help them,  but they were afraid."

Creb teaches Ayla his name.  Then he teaches her Iza's name.  Ayla tells them her name.  The Neanderthals are very curious about the girl with the golden hair.  Broud keeps touching her with his stick, until Iza stops him. 

"As the days passed, and still they had not found a cave, many in the Clan were sure that some dark spirit, had put the child Ayla in their path. She was of the others, and should have been left to die.  That was what the memories told them.  It was the memories that ruled the Clan.  The ancient knowledge that each was born with.  The voices of the past that could not be disobeyed or changed.  Ayla did not have the memories.  Iza knew the Clan would not let her keep the child much longer."

Then Ayla surprises everyone by finding a cave for the Clan.  Inside the cave they find a huge skeleton of the great Cave Bear's head. 

"For many seasons the Clan lived in this new cave and Ayla was allowed to stay among them.  Iza and Creb protected her and raised her with Iza's own daughter Uba.  .  Ayla tried to be a child of the clan, but she knew that to Broud and many others, she was still a threat to the Clan's unchanging ways. Even the spirits seemed to have no place for her."

Ayla serves some food to the men.  This makes Broud angry.  He tells Ayla that this in not the Clan way.  Broud will be the next leader, so she should serve him before the other men.  Creb tells Ayla to listen to Broud.   

Ayla asks Creb to teach her about counting,.  He teaches her what little he knows.  He is shocked at how quickly she grasps the idea of counting.  She even shows him some new aspects to counting.  He tells her that most of the lpeoole don't understand counting and he wants Ayla not to tell anyone that she knows how to count too. 

Iza tells Creb to find Ayla a spirit that will protect her. 

The Clan hunts musk oxen  Broud is able to kill one. 

Creb finds a spirt for Ayla.  Ayla's spirit is the cave lion.  Broud says that's too strong a spirit protector for Ayla.  Creb tells him to be quiet. 

Ayla is a young woman now, but she is ugly in the eyes of the Neanderthals.  Iza feels that Ayla will never get a husband, and then when Iza and Creb are gone, she will have no one.  So she teaches Ayla the healing magic so she would have a good position in the clan when she and Creb are no longer around.  One day Ayla gets a chance to use a poultice to heal a burn for a man. 

Ayla wants to have a baby, but Iza tells her no, because the mark of the cave lion is too strong for a baby.  This makes Ayla very sad.  She goes over to a pond for some water and there sees her reflection in the water. 

Ayla watches the men practicing with their weapons.  Bourd is bad at throwing rocks from the sling shot and he takes out his frustrations on an older man of the Clan.  He pushes the old man over. The men go back to the cave.  Ayla sees that they have left one of the slings behind.  She picks it up even knowing that the penalty for a woman touching a weapon is death. 

Back in the cave, Bourd signals to Ayla that he wants her to bring him some food.  Ayla gets the food and takes it over to Bourd, but he starts manhandling her and throwing her to the ground.  Some of the people don't like Bourd doing this.  Creb stops Bourd from doing any more damage to Ayla.  He then tells Bourd that he shames the Clan, and if Bourd wants to be the Clan leader, he can't be pushing his people around. 

To get revenge on Ayla, Bourd forcibly rapes her.  She did try to flight him, but he overpowered her. 

Ayla finds a hidden cave and hides there when she wants to be alone and away from Bourd.  At times she practices with her sling weapon. 

Back in the Clan cave, Bourd demands sex from Ayla again.  She is sick of this Bourd fellow and so she practices even more with her weapon.  She finally starts hitting her targets.  She keeps on with her practicing and gets really good with her weapon. 

Iza realizes that Ayla is pregnant and she tells Ayla the news.  Ayla is happy at the news. 

A little boy walks away from the Clan and goes deeper into the woods.  The wolves see him.  A white wolf grabs the boy and starts running away with him,  Ayla gets out her sling and uses it to throw a rock at the wolf.  The wolf yelps and drops the child.  The men rush over and find Ayla with the weapon.  They have her show them how to use the sling.  She's a regular Annie Oakley.  Because she saved the little boy, Ayla would be sent away only for one turning of the moon.  They expect her to die and already see her as an evil spirit.  They cannot look at Ayla for to do so would bring evil among the Clan. 

Everybody walks away from her.  She goes to her secret cave.  There she starts a fire for warmth.  She has her baby alone.  Winter comes along.  The baby is starting to get very cold.  Ayla comes to the Clan cave.  Many are happy to see Ayla, but not Broud. 

Now the men tell Ayla that her child must die, because otherwise the child will be a burden.  Ayla has no mate and no one will hunt game for her. Creb now asks for the life of Ayla and the child.  He says he loves Ayla as the child that he never had.  And so the Clan spares Ayla and her child.  And from that day on, Ayla was named "The Woman Who Hunts".  Creb named the child Durc. 

All the Clans in the area decide to get together.  It was time for a change.  Iza is too old to make the journey to the rendezvous.   She warns Ayla that Broud is still going to try to hurt her.  Therefore, Ayla must go to the gathering as a medicine woman.  In addition, Ayla has to find a mate. 

The Clans get together and the men challenge each other in wrestling.  A fellow named Brug likes Ayla and goes over to her. He and Ayla both have blue eyes.  They are interrupted by Creb.  He tells her that the other Mog-urs says that Ayla belongs to the Others and now Ayla must give Creb the medicine bowl that Iza gave to Ayla.  Ayla feels so bad about his that she hands over the bowl and then runs away from Creb. 

Now the hunters who want to be the new leaders try to kill the cave bear.  Several men are hurt badly, but there are a lot of men and the bear gradually dies.  Broud is credited as doing the most to kill the bear. 

Later that night they have a big dancing ceremony and the people get high on some liquid.  Ayla gets high and starts wandering to the back of the cave.  She hears Creb calling out her name.  He uses his most powerful magic to reach out to her. The same image filled their minds.  The cave bear and the cave lion walk together.  Durc comes up, but is not hurt.  The lion walks alone.  Ayla now knows that she must on her own find her destiny by herself.  She will wait for a sign from the spirits to start out on her own with her son. 

Iza feels that the spirits have told her that Ayla will never be safe with the Clan, because she can never really be Clan.  She must go find the Others, who are like her.  Ayla tells Iza that she won't leave her, but Iza says Ayla must go. 

Broud's father will make Broud the lead of the Clan.  He also says he fears for the Clan. 

Broud becomes the new leader in a short ceremony.  He tells Ayla to come over to him.  He says that Ayla has no mate, so he's going to take her to his hearth.  But, Ayla will not do any hunting.  And Durc will live with another man at his hearth.  Ayla doesn't like hearing that.  Broud now says that Creb must leave the cave.  Ayla says that she is the medicine woman and that Creb cannot leave the cave.  Broud gets very angry and says:  "I curse Ayla with death . . . forever."

Broud pushes Creb to go with a long spear.  Ayla throws a stone at the spear and it splits in two parts.  She says:  "No. Creb will stay."  So Broud charges at Ayla, but she jumps out of his way and he hits the ground hard a couple of times.  Broud prepares to charge again but his father steps in.  He removes the royal tooth from around Broud's neck and tells him that he's fighting a spirit and Ayla has won.  He adds:  "Your are nothing compared to her."  Broud bows his head at the feet of his father. 

Ayla gets her son back.  She then says goodbye to her friend Uba and leaves.  She hears her boy crying and she looks back.  Creb tells her to walk with the Cave Bear. 



Good story about a female Cro-Magnon hero among the Neanderthals.  Scientists don't like to use the term Cro-Magnon, which is just a common name, not a scientific one.  They like to use Early Modern Humans (EMH) for the Cro-Magnons.  Wikipedia says that the earliest known remains of Cro-Magnon-like humans are dated to 43,000 years before the present. 

Poor film unless you have a fixation on Darryl Hannah.  She is the blonde who is naturally an outsider in a group of Neanderthals, which, if you did not already know, were a separate species or even a sub-species of human beings.  




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