Alpha is finally almost here

I’ve wondered whatever happened to Alpha, the film about a Solutrean boy? It was supposed to come out much earlier in the year, but they pushed it back to August. So it will be competing with Crazy Rich Asians this weekend. Not sure if I’ll end up catching it, but it seems like they are making the new trailer a bit more “feel good.”

I do have to admit: it’s strange to realize that for the vast majority of our species’ existence we were just hunters, like the ones depicted in this film. Unfortunately I doubt they’ll illustrate much about Soultrean society, even if conjectural, because the film is mostly about a lone boy with a tamed wolf.

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14 thoughts on “Alpha is finally almost here

  1. Looks Hollywood formulaic in many ways, but all that hella cool CGI Upper Paleolithic megafauna (presumably accurately depicted in appearance and behavior) may get me into a big-screen theater.

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  2. As I write this comment, this item is double-posted on Feedburner. Double-posting is excusable in a comment-thread (if not done too often), but by the actual blogger?? Come, come.

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  3. No. But we have been watching “Marco Polo” (2014-2016) on Netflix. The intersection with history is minimal, but the visuals are terrific. Better than “Berlin Babylon”.

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  4. I was kind of annoyed at the scene in the earlier trailer a sabre-toothed tiger (or something) snatches a kid from right around the campfire. The South African bushmen never had dogs, and but the lions still gave them a lot of respect. (Of course the bushmen had poisoned arrows, and that may have affected the relationship).

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  5. Mildly interested in this movie. This second trailer, though, is just awful. It plays like one of those Youtube fan-trailers where they make the movie look like it belongs to a different genre: e.g. The Shining as a romantic comedy, Mrs Doubtfire as a horror movie, etc.

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  6. it’s strange to realize that for the vast majority of our species’ existence we were just hunters

    You know what boggles my mind? That for much of our history, we lived in such a way that we didn’t run into strangers in our day-to-day lives. Can you imagine such an existence today?

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  7. The story is quite strange, because obviously the taming of wolves happened in a very different way. Not sure how, whether they kept wolves on leashes for keeping other animals away or simply have eaten them, until they had a tamed variant which could be useful in other ways, like it might have been with horses. But in any case, there must have been some kind of selection of a group of wolves. Single wolves don’t change anything, unless they being bred systematically. So a romantic story about a boy and his wolve-dog being just a Hollywodesque and politically correct distortion of prehistoric life.

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  8. I imagine it was more likely that canine domestication started with them being attracted to human camps by the presence of food, and becoming camp followers because of the availability of food scraps, and it developed from there. That sort of scenario could have played out many times over. Humans keeping orphaned pups as captive play things because of the cuteness factor, and keeping those that grew up less vicious and more useful could have been a de facto selective breeding program.

    I don’t mind a bit of fantasy in cinema, as long as it is clear that it is just romantic story telling. From what I can see from the Alpha trailers, there are elements there that could be not too far removed from how a canine might become attached to/socialized with a human in reality, although some scenes seem pretty far fetched. Nothing to get too exercised about.

    “Can you imagine such an existence today?”

    Easily. I lived it for quite long periods when younger and it was normal to me. Ironic that I have ended up living in one of the most densely populated places on earth and, to make it harder (or maybe easier, not sure which), immersed among people with an alien culture, and with language difficulties. Adapting was generally very difficult and unpleasant for me – it took 2 full years before I began to feel even somewhat comfortable. Decades on, I still have moments when I feel the need to get right away from people and be alone in a wild area, but there are areas I can get to easily where I can do that, so it’s OK.

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  9. @John: Thats a probable scenario. Probably some combination of scenarios on the table might have been the reality. Probably I was a bit harsh, because it will still be better than 10.000 BC I guess 😉

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  10. Easily. I lived it for quite long periods when younger and it was normal to me

    What’s “quite long periods”? Were you also cut off from newspapers, radio, TV, and all knowledge of the outside world? How small was the community in which you lived? Was it made up of 15-30 intimately related kin?

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  11. @Twinkie – Typically, several weeks at a time, and there was no community as such – just the old farmer that I worked for (no relation, I just worked for him), and his wife, both of whom were uncommunicative and had nothing to talk about anyway. Even the sheepdog didn’t want to socialize with me, although she was very willing to go hunting kangaroos with me, and a great hunting partner. No TV, radio or newspapers. I would get an occasional break from that when the farmer needed me to drive to the nearest town for something, which had a population of, I dunno, a couple of thousand people, maybe. That was a long enough trip that it would take up a full day there and back, and when I was in the town, I would go into the one hotel in the town while I was there and have a cold beer, as a special treat. But no one in the bar would talk to me – they would stare at me, because I was from out of town, but had no interest in engaging me in dialogue. The barman would ask me what I wanted, but that was it. On the farm, the nearest neighbour was another farmer who lived miles away, and on the rare occasion I would spot him across the common fence dividing the two properties, he had no interest at all in speaking to me.

    And I was OK with that.

    And I’ve had a few periods of weeks when I was out in the bush alone, doing another kind of work, when I saw absolutely no one. And I was OK with that too.

    It hasn’t turned me into a brilliant party companion, but I probably was never going to be that anyway. It does mean that I deeply appreciate my own family, and my extended family-by-marriage. I don’t want to live alone again, it’s not a good way to be.

    @Obs: Yes, it would be difficult for it to be as bad as 10,000 BC.

    I don’t know if you ever saw the 1981 film The Quest For Fire – I thought that was really a pretty good effort, considering what was known when it was made, and that it was based on a Belgian novel published in 1911. I watched it again fairly recently, and it still comes across pretty well, all things considered. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a look. You will probably get a laugh out of the tame African lions with stuck-on sabre teeth. No CGI then.

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  12. @John: I know The Quest for Fire, it had its flaws too and I found the ape-like (Australopithecines?) attackers particularly strange, but otherwise it was an ok effort, mainly because it was entertaining and there are not too much good other movies of that kind I know of.

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