Would it not be wise to settle disputes through football matches? Think about it for a moment. Our world has been through so much century after century – wars, invasions, political matters, corrupt elections, wars in the name of God and so on. Did we – the mankind – actually achieve anything from all of those conflicts? Is there anything to justify the conflicts we’ve been going through since the beginning of civilization? Written by Mark Burton and James Higginson, directed by Nick Park “Early Man” is an animated film that can be considered a must-see for every diplomat and politician that walks on this Earth. Maybe, learning the art of diplomacy in a very funny and colorful way will help us avoid tensions on the government level.
Set in between the Stone and Bronze Ages, the story tells about a little tribe that is being kicked out of the valley they inhabit by the ruthless Lord Nooth (voiced by Tom Hiddleston). All of this takes place behind Queen Oofeefa’s back and is resolved around a secret game called football. Left with no choice, the Lord is forced to accept the challenge from a young caveman Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne). To save the land of his tribe, the young caveman has less than a day to make the impossible happen. He has to convince his mates to place the ambitious game against the best players of the Bronze Age.
The film starts with quite an amusing scene. Set somewhere in Manchester during lunch time, we are introduced to very friendly dinosaurs and cavemen who try to eat each other. A big explosion happens. Then, we skip a few ages of history and are transported to the times when the cavemen appear a bit more civilized. Now, instead of each other, they prefer to hunt and eat rabbits. But don’t worry, the rabbits are pretty smart and know how to escape from the tribe’s primitive hunting techniques.
During the rabbit hunt, we get to meet Dug. This young man is full of bright ideas. He gives an inspiring speech to his fellow cavemen, saying that a little rabbit is not enough to feed big men like them. His speech is interrupted by Lord Nooth’s attack. Dug tries to charge back at Lord Nooth but is accidentally knocked into a basket bound to the Bronze Age city. As he tried to escape, he finds himself being mistaken for a player in a fancy public game called football. Because of all these circumstances, he ends up challenging the local team right in front of Lord Nooth and all the spectators in the stadium. The deal he offers is the following – if his team wins, they will get their valley back. But if they lose, they will have to work in the mines for the rest of their lives.
Created by Aardman Animation studio in cooperation with BFI and co-produced with StudioCanal, “Early Man” is a stop-motion animated adventure comedy with a brilliant concept that provides a food for thoughts. It offers an intelligent approach to a land dispute that can be achieved by a simple handshake and agreement without losing a single life. While this is an entertaining film for kids to watch, I believe that grown-up audience should also pay a closer attention to Nick Park’s film. Featuring the voices of such actors as Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, and Maisie Williams, “Early Man” is an absolute fun to watch. It is charming, it has so many interesting characters, and on top of that, there is the football match of the century to watch. l sincerely hope, England’s national football team can benefit from it too. Don’t you think so?