Black Robe (1991) Order this movie
Starring: Lothaire Bluteau, August Schellenberg
Director: Bruce Beresford

Synopsis: Historical epic about French priest trying to convert Algonquin Indians in 17th century Canada. This slowly unfolding sleeper pleases historical drama fans who appreciate lush cinematography and a bleak, non-Hollywood approach. Some graphic violence, but historically correct.

"Smell the wood smoke."





Jeremiah Johnson (1972) Order this movie
Starring: Robert Redford, Will Geer
Director: Sydney Pollack

Synopsis: Mountain man saga, with its simple, powerful characters, early frontier setting, and leisurely pace, will please fans of historical Westerns and drama lovers who enjoy stunning natural cinematography. Good depiction of Native American culture and basic survival techniques in Rocky Mountain winter.

" Larry Dean Olson was a consultant for the movie."





The Last of the Mohicans (1992) Order this movie
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe
Director: Michael Mann

Synopsis: Lush, sweeping historical/romantic drama about battle for control of North America in 18th century. With its stunning cinematography, gripping action, strong performances, this is a hit with romance, Western, epic lovers. Good depictions of frontier trappers, settlers and Native Culture during the French and Indian Wars. The opening sequence is not to be missed!





The Naked Prey (1966) Order this movie

"Over a 100 years ago, a group of white hunters, on a safari for elephant ivory, were captured by a tribe that the white hunters refused to pay off.  They killed off all but one of the white hunters, this one white hunter known as "Man" (played by the actor Cornel Wilde. He also directed the film). The Tribe, being impressed by Man's bravery, reserved a special death for Man. They gave him the "lion's chance". They stripped him naked and allowed him a head start before he would be chased by the tribe's best warriors. But Surprise!!! One of the warriors gets killed by Man, and grabs the warriors machete, flint & steel, loincloth, and spear (he keeps loosing that tool) and having the same wilderness skills knowledge as the tribe. Man uses those skills to survive, escape and evade his pursuers.
Lots of primitive skills used in this film."
Comments by Bryan Lee Sammis




No Escape (1994) Order this movie

"The year is 2022, USMC Captain John Robbins (Ray Liotta) has been sentenced for assassinating his commanding officer, by banishment to an unescapable remote island prison. No guards, no fence, just a remote island of the damned. There are 2 major camps on the island: the "outsiders" led by the bloodthirsty Merak (played by Stuart Wilson), and the community known as the"Insiders" led by the strong willed benevolent Father (played by Lance Henriksen). In this film look at the Insiders community. They improvised and adapted every piece of material and "junk" that washed up on the shore to be used for the "betterment" of the community. Almost an epitome of primitive self reliance."
Comments by Bryan Lee Sammis



Grey Owl (1999) Order this movie
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Annie Galipeau

"The true story of a pioneering conservationist in the Canadian wilderness. Pierce Brosnan is Archie Grey Owl, a part Scotch Native American adopted and raised by a Canadian Ojibwa tribe. He gets by as a trapper, hunting guide, and sometime writer, but becomes an internationally revered activist in the 1930s when he publishes a book on the vanishing wilderness. The real star of the film is the magnificent Canadian wilderness: carpets of forests, clear crystal lakes, and vast blue skies."





Emerald Forest (1985) Order this movie
Starring: Powers Boothe, Meg Foster

"Powers Boothe plays an American engineer working on a dam project in Brazil. When his young son is seemingly absorbed one day into the dense perils and beauty of the Amazon rain forest, Boothe's character searches endlessly for his missing son for 10 years. The director, John Boorman, leads us into the life of a forest tribe who have assimilated the missing child and who will ultimately send him back with the opposite of his father's pro-development sensibility. The acting is very good and the location is beautiful."

"Emerald Forest deals with the primitive mind. Who we really are when stripped of our cultural guise. The movie takes place in the Amazon jungle. There are scenes of drug induced communion with nature."
Comments by Bob Gillis



Man in the Wilderness (1971) Order this movie
Starring: Richard Harris, John Huston
Director: Richard Sarafian

Synopsis: A member of an expedition team in the Northwest Territory is left for dead after a bear attacks him. He struggles to survive in the wilderness while plotting his revenge.
Run time: 108 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG
Genres: Action, Drama

"Starting with nothing but the buckskins on his back and left for dead, a wilderness scout manages to live and make everything he needs to survive and catch up with the men that deserted him. Also has some good Native American representations."
Comments by Chuck Kritzon



The Earthling (1981) Order this movie
Starring: William Holden, Ricky Schroder
Genre: Drama

"A touching and thoughtful portrait of two reluctant survivors, one a life-worn fifty something seeking to reclaim his history before terminal disease claims him first; and the other, a young boy, played by Ricky Schroder, violently thrust from a sheltered childhood. The two are brought together when the boy's parents are killed in a fearsome accident while on vacation in the remote Australian wilderness; the older man, played by William Holden, is the only witness for many miles around. Preoccupied with his own demise and his own demons, Foley (Holden) must take the boy with him and teach him the survival skills he learned as boy living in the same wilderness many years before. He does not have time to walk the boy out himself, so he much teach him what he needs to go on alone. While both characters are derailed by fate from their anticipated courses, both end up with what they truly needed because of one another. To take a moral from a much more recent movie: Life, as always, finds a way."
Summary by Cory Burt

"This movie is a little slow but well worth the time. Beautiful scenes of the Australian wilderness. Neat physical and spiritual aspects of Australian Aboriginal culture shown."
Comments by Chuck Kritzon


The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986) Order this movie
Starring: Daryl Hannah, Pamela Reed
Director: Michael Chapman

Synopsis: Feminist caveman drama about blond Neanderthal pariah in prehistoric times. Critics thought Hannah was perfectly cast, but panned script, pacing. May appeal to fans of camp for unintentionally funny moments.
Run time: 100 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Genres: Action, Drama

"If you loved the book, you will hate the movie! But! It does have some redeeming value sprinkled throughout. Great visuals of a Neanderthal group on the move during the Ice Age, bull roarers being used and more."
Comments by Chuck Kritzon



Caveman (1981) Order this movie
Starring: Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach, Shelly Long
Director: Carl Gottlieb

Synopsis: Prehistoric screwball comedy finds weakling Cro-Magnon battling bullish rival. While the plot is purely pedestrian, fans of the cast and stop-motion creature effects may find it a campy, nostalgic diversion.
Run time: 92 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG
Genre: Comedy

"This movie, although not having anything to do with survival, etc. is a great diversion. The cast members are all familiar, the claymation is funny, and there is a great scene of an improve primitive musical session! Zug-Zug!"
Comments by Chuck Kritzon



Walkabout (1971) Order this movie
Starring: David Gulpilil, Jenny Agutter
Director: Nicolas Roeg

Synopsis: Hypnotic, once-experimental, nearly dialogue-free art-house hit about siblings marooned in Australian outback and befriended by a young aborigine on his "walkabout". With its stunning cinematography, "respect nature" message, this coming-of-age drama pleases fans seeking homage to primitive, uncivilized world.
Run time: 95 minutes
MPAA Rating: NR
Genres: Classic, Cult, Drama
Country of Origin: Australia

"Great movie from early 70's. Walk About is kind of different and it starts out really surprising. Really good!"
Comments by Chuck Kritzon



Dersu Uzala (1975) Order this movie
Starring: Maxim Munzuk, Yuri Solomin
Director: Akira Kurosawa

Synopsis: Two men whose contrasting lives are bound by common thread of survival learn friendship and respect in Siberian wasteland. Engrossing character study for drama fans who appreciate deliberate, simple stories.
Run time: 124 minutes
MPAA Rating: NR
Genres: Classic, Drama, Foreign
Country of Origin: Japan

"This is one of the best movies about experiencing the wilderness. Directed by Akira Kurosawa. A Russian army officer at the turn of the century befriends an old Asian man who has spent his life living off the land in the wild. The segment when the two of them are caught away from camp in a steppe type environment and a very sudden snow storm comes over them is one of the best parts of the film. Don't miss this one!"
Comments by Chuck Kritzon


Quest For Fire (1982) Order this movie
Starring: Everett McGill, Rae Dawn Chong
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud

Synopsis: Widely appealing drama about a prehistoric tribe seeking fire for survival. Much-admired for its ability to develop colorful characters, intriguing story without use of modern language. Great for drama fans.
Run time: 75 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

"Some outrageous mistakes, but well worth the time to watch. Even has a scene with Mammoths!"
Comments by Chuck Kritzon




The Edge (1997) Order this movie
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Alec Balwin

"Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins, who played Hannibal Lechter in "Silence of the Lambs", are stranded in the wilderness and have to practice survival skills, all the while being stalked by a grizzly bear."
Movie suggestion by





Cast Away (2000) Order this movie
Starring: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt

"Following a mid-Pacific plane crash, Chuck Noland's (Tom Hanks) four-year survival on a remote island, totally alone save for a Wilson volleyball (aptly named "Wilson") that becomes Chuck's closest "friend." It's fascinating to witness Chuck's emerging survival skills, and Hanks's remarkable physical transformation. Chuck's frustration is witnessed when he attempts to use the fire plow technique to start a fire. His elation is seen when he finally succceeds in his hard earned efforts at creating fire with the help from Wilson."





Nova: Ice Mummies - Return of the Iceman (1998) Order this movie

"A man wandered into the Italian Alps about 5,000 years ago and never returned - until his astonishingly well-preserved body was discovered by hikers in 1991. Return of the Iceman by Nova looks at the scientific research, and political controversy, that emerged from this spectacular find. Using CAT scanning and carbon dating, scientists were able to learn much about the man's health and lifestyle, from the tools he used to the foods he ate, giving us much greater insight into the life of our ancestors during the Stone Age. Much of the research was conducted in Austria, but after surveyors determined that the body was found in Italian territory, a small battle was launched to return the body to its "homeland." The research continues, however, and the outstanding science reporting we expect from Nova keeps us informed and amazed."




The Gods Must Be Crazy Order this movie

"The Gods Must Be Crazy is a film made in South Africa many years ago that stirred up a bit of controversy in its depiction of Black Africans. Basically, the movie makes fun of civilized folk of all types and contrasts them to the pure logic of the unspoiled Bushmen. It deals with the events that evolve from a pilot dropping a coke bottle into an area where there are Bushmen unaware of civilization (oh that there really were!) After they find many uses for the bottle, which they think was sent to them by the gods, they decide that it is actually evil and destructive to their social order, so their leader sets off to through it off the edge of the world. On the way he encounters a group of whites who are having their own adventures and gets involved in an incident with revolutionaries and so on. The film contrasts his purity and basic understanding and skills, with the complex, nonsensical dealings of the modern world. It has some great humor and scenery shots, and portrays some good hunter/gatherer skills. Its a low budget sort of film but I love it."
Comments by Norm Kidder

"African Bushman discover a soft drink bottle that becomes an important cultural object."
Movie suggestion by



Nanook of the North (1922) Order this movie
Starring: Nanook

"Classic Silent Documentary about an Inuit named Nanook. Movie shows Nanook hunting and fishing as well as building an igloo. Rereleased on video tape."
Movie suggestion by





The Mountain Men
(1980) Order this movie
Starring: Bian Kieth, Chuck Heston.

"They use quite a few primitive skills and give the watcher a peek at some beautiful country as they survive the fur trapping era. Worth the look."
Comments by






Lost in the Barrens (1990) Order this movie
Starring: Nicholas Shields, Evan Adams, Lee J. Campbell, Graham Greene (Dances With Wolves)
Run time: 91 minutes

"The movie won an Emmy for "outstanding children's entertainment", but don't let that fool you. That just simply means it's good, and doesn't have any graphic scenes or coarse language. It is distributed by "Feature Films for Families" (1-800-347-2833), which, again, let's you know that the movie is clean. Rather than try to tell you about the movie, I'll just write what's on the back of the case."
Jamie, an orphan who must leave his upper-class boarding school to live with an uncle in the wilderness of Manitoba, Canada, has no idea of the incredible adventure that awaits him. During a hunting trip, he and Awasis, a Native American Indian, become separated from the group. Finding themselves lost and alone in the icy and dreaded wilderness called The Barrens, their struggle to survive against impending doom strips away their prejudice toward one another's cultures, and demands from them more courage, determination and trust than they ever thought they coud muster. This compelling story is filled with emotion and climaxes in triumph.
Comments by Alan Harrison,



Iceman (1984) Order this movie
Starring: Timothy Hutton, John Lone

"A Neanderthal man is found frozen in ice. Scientists manage to bring him back to life, but only Hutton is interested in him as a human being and not a lab specimen. Fascinating, credible science fiction made all the more involving by Fred Schepisi's fine direction. Remarkable performance as the caveman by Lone.





This artical and 71 other articals from the PrimitiveWays™ website are now being offered in a book version. The PrimitiveWays™ Book contains 72 detatiled articles on primitive technology in a convenient spiral bound book form. It has198 pages with over 277 images! Now you can take this vital source of information with you anywhere and can easily share with your friends.


Help us make this movie list longer and/or in more detail. The contents of your movie recommendations should pertain to PrimitiveWays related topics.

E-mail your movie suggestions, along with summaries, to "Dino Labiste" at or "Bob Gillis" at


PrimitiveWays Home Page

© PrimitiveWays 1998 - 2002