Unlike Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Beasts, Cavemen combines CGI with actors to portray the characters in the story of man. Initially this seems to make it far less technically impressive than the earlier programs--memories of Stanley Kubrick's 2001 are inevitable--but fortunately the acting is superb and the viewer soon forgets that these are people in monkey suits. The series also makes use of a special effect called "deep time-lapse", which shows in a matter of dramatic seconds the thousands of years of geological changes that sped up our ancestors' evolution. Wilson himself takes part in the action as if he is a modern-day naturalist following lions across the Serengeti rather than creatures long extinct. This approach makes for a more immediate as well as poignant interpretation of history: the result is an enlightening and moving tribute to the human journey. --Kristen Bowditch
Also, not everything produced on Discovery is meant for children. There are still many, many adults who wish to learn about the past and appreciate a more academic presentation then would occur if a show such as this were aimed at a more younger audience. I guess it is taken for granted by a lot of the media that once one becomes an adult, all that matters are sports competitions and sitcoms. This series thus was extremely refreshing to watch.
That being said, I came away from watching "Cavemen" with a newfound respect for our ancestors. All too often they have been portrayed as comical dimwits, running around with clubs and dragging women by their hair. Now I realize this is actually very disrespectful and totally inappropriate. These very ancient ancestors managed to learn to survive some of the worst environmental conditions imaginable, grew more creative over time and with this creativity laid the foundations of modern civilization. As stated in the series, the discovery of fire not only chased away the denizens of the night, but also provided an opportunity for homo sapiens to learn to create,to reflect, become more emotional creatures and allow for the development of higher brain functions.
Neanderthals especially have had to bear the brunt of many a joke. Although their species did not survive, they can hardly be termed a failure.Read more ›
Well, it is the latter epoch that is covered by this DVD. It is an overview of human evolution, 7 million years in the making. It takes us from the dawn on man all the way up to about 140,000 years go; long time ago for us, but mere seconds ago on a cosmic timescale.
Along the way the documentary displays diverse humanoids, some of whom make it, some of whom don't. It also demonstrates their interaction with long-extinct species of animals that were around the same time they walked the earth.
I must caution that the DVD pulls no punches when it comes to showing the animalistic traits of primitive man. The rites of courtship, hunting, eating and gutting of animals are all shown with uncompromisingly graphic demonstrations. I would not recommend this video for young videos, nor would I suggest that anyone watch it while eating. Some of it is not the most appetizing of images in the world.
That said, it is quite remarkable to identify just how much we modern humans have in common with these early products of evolution. If we look closely, we will see a lot of ourselves in them.
The late astronomer Carl Sagan once remarked that, if the history of the universe were shrunk to the scale of a calendar year, all of humanity exists would exist in the last 10 seconds of that year. This scientific expose is a glimpse into those 10 seconds. As Stephen J. Gould once said, "We stood up first and got smart later." Here is OUR story of how our ancestors stood up, got smart and began their long, slow and tenuous march towards civilization.