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Quest for Fire & Burgess (1980)

Found- a press-cutting from 9th November 1980 about Anthony Burgess and the making of the movie Quest for Fire - which came out in 1981. Burgess created a primitive language which is spoken in the movie by the Ulam tribe. The article is joshing in tone. It was published in the 'Public Eye' section of The Observer, possibly a sort of gossip column.

Anthony Burgess Back to Basics

Remarkable things have come off the typewriter off the author Anthony Burgess; but none so odd  as two hours of grunts for a £4 million film about the Stone Age.' Hell of a lot of work creating a language on basic principles', he says.

The grunting, Burgess-style,  has been going on around Aviemore in the Scottish highlands. 14 elephants, heavily disguised as woolly mastodons are also playing their parts, trumpeting as they fancy without literary guidance.

On the telephone from his home in Monaco, the distinguished grunt writer seemed astounded  that the film Quest for Fire was not being shot in Iceland. 'I thought they'd sent the elephants up there'  said Burgess.  'The lights good in Iceland.' [Some info about location problems, cost etc.,] …but there was no stinting on the grunts.  Burgess came to London to show the actors how to have a meaningful meaningless dialogue. Author/ anthropologist Desmond Morris joined him, to teach the right gesticulations for naked apes.

There are no star names amongst the cave persons, who are largely occupied in fighting one another for fire (it comes naturally, no doubt, in the Highlands just now).  The script by Gerard Brach derives from a somewhat obscure French novel published in 1912. On Wednesday the entire team, 80 strong, flies off to grunt in a warmer clime, in Kenya.

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2 thoughts on “Quest for Fire & Burgess (1980)

  1. Anonymous

    "There are no star names amongst the cave person" Are you saying Ron "Hellboy" Perlman a nonentity?! I shall have to ask you to step outside.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Thanks for posting this. Only saw this movie once but I've always remembered it. Remember it being humorous, though maybe not quite a comedy. Even included a "nerd" caveman, if I recall. Need to watch it again and see how accurate my memory is.

    Reply

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