Iceman (1984)

Iceman (1984)

Taglines: An amazing unforgettable journey of humanity.

An anthropologist who is part of an arctic exploration team discovers the body of a prehistoric Neanderthal man who is subsequently resuscitated. The researcher must then decide what to do with the prehistoric man and he finds himself defending the man from those that want to dissect him in the name of science.

Iceman is a 1984 American science fiction film from Universal Studios. The screenplay was written by John Drimmer and Chip Proser, and was directed by Fred Schepisi. The cast included John Lone, Timothy Hutton, Lindsay Crouse and Danny Glover. It was filmed in color with Dolby sound and ran for 100 minutes. The DVD version was released in 2004.

About the Story

Anthropologist Stanley Shephard (Timothy Hutton) is brought to an arctic base when explorers discover the body of a prehistoric man (John Lone) who has been frozen in a block of ice for 40,000 years. After thawing the body to perform an autopsy, scientists discover to their amazement a real possibility to revive him and their attempt to resuscitate the “iceman” proves successful.

While being revived, the dazed caveman is alarmed by the surgical-masked figures; only Shephard has the presence of mind to remove his mask and reveal his humanity and somewhat familiar face to the terrified caveman, permitting the caveman to settle back into a more peaceful sleep and make a full recovery.

The scientists place the caveman in an artificial, simulated environment for study. The caveman quickly discovers the modern apparatus and environmental controls, and understands he is still far from home. Shephard believes that the caveman’s culture may provide clues to learning about the human body’s adaptability, citing ceremonies such as firewalking and the Sun Dance. Several other scientists in the research base see the potential in studying the caveman’s DNA and his survival in the ice, as they see it mainly as a case to advance medical science by “freezing” the sick or injured in order to suspend their bodies until treatment.

Shephard’s affinity with the caveman grows to the degree that he begins to defend the caveman’s right to be considered a human being and not a scientific specimen. Despite opposition from the rest of the staff, Shephard initiates an encounter with the caveman. Shephard names him “Charlie” after the iceman introduces himself as “Char-u”. Shephard and Charlie bond, but it becomes obvious to the anthropologist that Charlie misses his world; he is terrified and confused by the unknown world in which he awakens.

An eminent linguist is brought to the Arctic base to help understand Charlie’s language. As Shephard begins to communicate with Charlie, he realizes that he will never be able to help Charlie understand that the world and community he came from have long since disappeared. This fact is made even more poignant when Shephard introduces Charlie to a female colleague, Dr. Diane Brady (Lindsay Crouse). Assuming that the woman is Shephard’s mate, Charlie makes chalk marks which indicate that he likely was a married man with children before he was frozen.

Shephard strives to understand what motivates Charlie and why, of all the cavemen, he should survive being frozen. At one point, Shephard begins to sing “Heart of Gold”, inspiring Charlie to sing one of his own songs. Charlie’s seemingly incidental bird-like line drawings in the ground resembling body markings on his chest take on a new significance when the base’s helicopter strays over the roof of the base’s artificial tropical eco-zone, causing Charlie to take on an almost obsessive zeal as he climbs towards the roof. Shouting the word Beedha over and over, he lifts his arms towards the helicopter in a sign of obvious worship. Even though the helicopter pulls away from the dome, Shephard knows that Charlie can now think of nothing else.

Iceman Movie Poster (1984)

Iceman (1984)

Directed by: Fred Schepisi
Starring: Timothy Hutton, Lindsay Crouse, John Lone, Josef Sommer, David Strathairn, Philip Akin, Danny Glover, Amelia Hall
Screenplay by: Chip Proser, John Drimmer
Cinematography by: Ian Baker
Film Editing by: Billy Weber
Costume Design by: Rondi Johnson
Set Decoration by: Thomas L. Roysden
Art Direction by: Leon Ericksen, Josan F. Russo
Music by: Bruce Smeaton
Distributed by: Universal Studios
Release Date: April 13, 1984