Quest for Fire was released back in 1981, directed by esteemed filmmaker Jean Jacques Annaud the films story was set 80.000 years ago in Palaeolithic Europe, it focuses upon a tribe of cavemen called the Ulam, who have the gift of fire already, but when it is distinguished they do not have the ability to create it again. They guarded the small flame they possessed but it was extinguished by the marsh and after being driven out of their homes after a bloody and violent battle with a tribe called the Wagabu. The head of the Ulam decides that they must posses it once again, he sends out three men from the tribe to search for it and to bring it back to them. Noah, Amoukar and Gaw set off on their Quest to rekindle the flame.


Their journey is not an easy one and on it the trio encounter the Kzamm which is a tribe of primitive cannibals. The cannibals have fire and the trio of men are determined that they will steal it from them. Two of them distract the attention of the cannibals and allow Naoh to sneak int their camp and after killing the remaining male members of the tribe steals the flame but not before he is bitten on the genitals which causes obvious pain and discomfort. The three men re-unite and prepare to return to their home with the fire. There is a young woman called Ika in the Kzamm camp who was being held captive, she decides to follow the Ulam men for her own protection, she sees that Noah is in pain and prepares a poultice which helps him recover from his injury. Amoukar attempts to have sex with Ika who refuses and hides by Noah, he then has sex with her in front of his two comrades to show them that Ika is his. On their journey home Ika sees that she is close to her own tribe and tries to get the Ulam men to return to her village with her, they refuse and she heads off on her own.


Noah tries to carry on but he misses Ika and longs to see her again, he turns around and sets of to look for her, his comrades also follow him, but when Noah goes to scout a village on his own he falls into a swamp but is saved by the tribe of Ika called the Ivaka. They take Noah back to the village but do not allow him to be with Ika. Instead he is forced to mate with the tribe’s head women, and in the end the Ivaka allow Noah to see how they make fire. Eventually the Ulam men and Ika return to the Ulam village and show them they can make fire. The movie is a compelling one and is help greatly by the musical score which was composed by French film music Maestro Philippe Sarde. The music for THE QUEST FOR FIRE is magnificently epic sounding and is also filled with lilting and luscious themes which purvey a romantic and emotive atmosphere, the composer utilising pan pipes to great effect, the score is in a word superb, the composer creating numerous themes and leitmotifs throughout to accompany the hazardous journey of the Ulam.


I have always thought that this ranks amongst the composers best works for the cinema, it is grandiose and lavish and possesses a sound and style that is not only hauntingly beautiful but resoundingly powerful. The Soundtrack was originally released on a long-playing record back in 1981, on RCA records. There was also an early compact disc release and in more recent times the score saw a re-release on the Universal jazz series LISTEN TO THE CINEMA. and is a worthy addition to that wonderful series. The central theme is filled with emotion and the composer utilises pan pipes to introduce it, this introduction is given more depth and substance by the addition of subtle percussion and hushed woods that are both supported by feint underlying strings. It is not long before the strings take on the central theme and it swells into a full blown romantic classical sounding piece that is overflowing with a sense of romanticism which is both lush and raw in its overall sound. The theme grows and builds into a wonderfully lyrical crescendo for strings, brass woods and percussion. Solo trumpet is then brought into the proceedings with surging strings that engulf and fully expose the sheer power and emotive glory of Sarde’s theme. The score is a triumph and a tantalising piece of vintage style scoring the like of which we never seem to hear these days. Add this to your collection. You will not regret it.


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