Can you imagine today a film executive saying, “Hear this idea, everyone! What if sexy cavewomen were brunettes ruling over enslaved golden and bouffanted platinum blondes? Bikini loincloths, XXL fake lashes, glamming it up?” No, #metoo would’ve killed the fun.
And ironically in this pre-#metoo film, there is a lot of women’s empowerment. Our lead girl, ruler of the brunette tribe, played by Martine Beswick, pressures our modern day, well, 1960’s time travel explorer, “Do you refuse me?” Maybe brunettes don’t do it for him—couldn’t he have taken her into the 1960’s and given her bleach? Either way, here is this strong villainess. She kills a blonde cavewoman by stabbing her with a giant stick. You don’t mess with her. She is gorgeous. Smart. And the explorer doesn’t want her? It must kill her! Ms. Beswick holds power in her sex appeal and how she plays that out on screen.
A plot line like that is stupid, right? Mmmm, not in the 1960’s, when a prehistoric tale could have focused on a man exploiting a woman and why she refused him. Charlton Heston’s Planet of the Apes character in the first Apes installment plucked out a mute cavewoman in the future seemingly like she didn’t have a choice in any of it. She was there for eye candy and didn’t have any real personality. Prehistoric Women flips the switch on that by giving women a voice and, before Ghostbusters and Ocean’s 8 , gave us an almost all female on screen cast.
The movie as a whole has a weak plot, but it’s that 1960’s glam I love about it. This movie couldn’t be made today. The women exist without a parade announcing “we are women on screen!” Or the flip end, announcing, “we women refuse to be attractive and exploited!” The women are . They exist . Their roles aren’t reduced to representations of women. It’s a silly movie unintended for seriousness. We know realistically cavewomen didn’t dress like that or sing along to 1960’s choir-orchestral mashups in their dance. And that’s cool. Viva the 1960’s!
Bonus for anyone who’s a big SNES Chrono Trigger fan: Ayla’s wardrobe, her tribe’s dancing and firepits, and her entire act, or schtick as one might’ve said in 1960’s Hollywood, was clearly inspired by this movie.