Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Korg 70,000 BC: "The Hill People"




In “The Hill People,” Korg (Jim Malinda) and his brother, Bok (Bill Ewing) watch the funeral rites of another tribe.  A man has died while hunting, leaving behind his widowed wife, Sala (Eileen Dietz). 

Bok very much wants to marry Sala, but Korg suggests the time isn’t right for such a move. Bok presses his case, and they learn that Sala is promised to the brother of her dead husband.

Unfortunately, Sala’s would be husband is mean (“he thinks only of himself”) and Sala runs off into the forest.  Bok tracks her and finds her, and explains his feelings for her. Bok brings her back to the Korg tribe, planning to marry her. “You will not be alone again," he promises.

Korg, however, is concerned. The Hill People are allies, and if they learn about Bok and Sala, the alliance could be threatened and all-out war could commence…




“The Hill People” is actually the finest episode of Korg 70,000 B.C. that I’ve watched so far. This happens to be so because the segment doesn’t concern an outside threat, necessarily, but a personal dilemma and social dilemma. Bok and Sala are in love, but because of the mores of the time, cannot be together.  Worse, every moment they are together, they endanger both of their tribes.

In the end, Sala chooses to return to her tribe, but it is not a happy ending. Sala returns to a man she hates, and who is bad to her. And Bok is left without the woman he loves.  The episode ends with a dramatic pull-back of Bok standing alone on the landscape, shattered by the loss of Sala.


The story succeeds not just as a love story, but as a demonstration of how a situation can spiral, suddenly, out of control. Here, both Korg and the leader of the Hill People are powerless, essentially, to stop the situation from snow-balling. By episode’s end, they have spears pointed at one another, despite alliances, despite protestations of friendship.  

In a way, the story aksi reminded me a little of the Helen of Troy myth, with Sala as Helen, the woman caught between two states (Troy/Korg’s tribe) and (Greece/The Hill People).  Bok substitutes for Paris, and Sala's would-be husband (who demands ten spears, ten spears, ten bearskins and ten cutting tools for her…), is Menelaus.

Also, the story makes a point of describing how for women -- who are viewed as property of men in the Neanderthal culture -- there is almost no freedom of choice. Sala cannot choose to spurn her brother's husband, and she cannot choose to marry whom she loves.

Buttressed by an unhappy ending, and the fact that the story doesn’t tie-up neatly or cleanly for everyone, “The Hill People” demonstrates how Korg 70,000 BC attempted daring and adult story-telling, even in a time-slot programmed for kids.

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