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Finding Altamira: Cave paintings were a big deal, but this film is not

Antonio Banderas in Finding Altamira.

Pacific Northwest Pictures

2 out of 4 stars

Finding Altamira
Written by
Olivia Hetreed and Jose Luis Lopez-Linares
Directed by
Hugh Hudson
Antonio Banderas, Allegra Allen, Golshifteh Farahani, Rupert Everett

Finding Altamira is a lushly appointed historical drama about the accidental finding of 35,000-year-old cave paintings in northern Spain. It was a big deal in 1879. Alas, the film on the controversial discovery leans to humdrum.

Antonio Banderas and his enthusiastic beard team up to play the earnest amateur archeologist Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, who, with his small daughter Maria (overplayed as cutesy and obnoxiously precocious by Allegra Allen), come upon long-hidden depictions of bison. The find throws the family, the science world and the Catholic Church into tumult, because the notion of "primitives" being able to produce such art didn't jibe with the accepted Bible-based notions of prehistory. As such, the paintings were dismissed as fakes.

Directed by veteran Chariots of Fire filmmaker Hugh Hudson, the semi-compelling Finding Altamira is let down by ordinary acting, way too many scholarly adages and a perplexing level of inaction. The child is shown a mirrored device and it is explained to her that the reflections give the illusion of movement. There's a lot of that going around.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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