Follow TV Tropes


Film / Iceman (1984)

Go To

I, who was born to die, shall live. That the world of animals, and the world of men, may come together, I shall live.
Inuit Legend (from the Title Card)

Iceman is a 1984 Science Fiction film directed by Fred Schepisi about the discovery by a mining corporation of a 40,000 year-old frozen man who, when thawed for research, comes to life. The film follows the philosophical questions raised, and the attempts to communicate with him.

This film came out amidst a run of various caveman-themed movies (Such as Quest for Fire, 1981; Caveman, 1981; Clan of the Cave Bear, 1986), but this one carefully examines the issues involved with resuscitating a paleolithic man in the late 20th century.

Not to be confused with Iceman (2017), a German drama imagining the last days of the Alpine Bronze Age mummy known as Ötzi the Iceman; The Iceman (2012), a biopic about alleged Professional Killer Richard Kuklinski; or founding X-Men member, Robert Drake aka Iceman.


Tropes in this film:

  • All Cavemen Were Neanderthals: Someone calls Charlie a Neanderthal, even though he was found in Canada. Somewhat justified, in that no one really knew from when or where Charlie came.
  • And I Must Scream: Charlie is frozen with a look of complete and utter terror.
  • Artistic License – Biology: When discussing frozen mammoths, Dr. Brady explains that freezing creates ice crystals that "destroy the cell walls". However, animal cells don't have cell walls. (What she should have said is that the crystals destroy the cell membranes.)
  • Bittersweet Ending: Charlie is happy to have achieved his goal, but he's probably going to die once he hits the ground.
  • Bookends: The film begins and ends with a Title Card of the page quote.
  • Cargo Cult: Charlie interprets a helicopter to be his god.
  • Contemporary Caveman: Only not really played for laughs or to make a statement.
  • Advertisement:
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Charlie's pose when he is unthawed appears to be in a classic crucifix position. Given that he was to be the savior of his tribe.....
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: They do their best to keep Charlie in a familiar environment, but when he manages to get out he experiences this.
  • Harmless Freezing: Charlie was completely unharmed from being frozen due to chemicals in his system. This is lampshaded at one point, talking about how his cells should be harmed by the crystallization.
  • Heroic BSoD: Charlie goes through one of these after seeing the helicopter.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Charlie had gone on some kind of quest to confront/plead with a sky god and protect his tribe from disaster when he was frozen. When Charlie grabs onto the helicopter and flies with it, he fulfills his quest from his point of view and without regret lets go...
  • Human Popsicle: Charlie again.
  • Mood Whiplash: Charlie talks about his wife and kids, even acting like his kids at one point. It moves into Tear Jerker territory when he asks where his children are.
  • No Ending: Charlie is still falling from the helicopter when the movie ends. We get no resolution on that, or anything else.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The chemistry lab Charlie wanders into has an eyewash station, which is nice, but also has glass bottles out where they can be easily knocked down — a real chemistry lab always cleans up and puts away to avoid contamination or accidents. A locked door is also a good idea. Charlie knocks over one that bubbles on the floor as acid.
  • Shown Their Work: The film did their best to keep the science straight. Charlie — though you may not see it on first glance - is played by a Chinese actor, which would fit that era's looks well, as it was the the peoples of Asia who crossed the land bridge into North America 40,000 years ago.
  • The Slow Path: Frozen for 40,000 years (actual amount is unknown)
  • Swiss Cheese Security: The access to the Vivarium. No one is watching when Charlie sneaks out. They just have a simple button which probably worked fine to keep the animals in, but not intelligent proto-humans.
  • Take My Hand!: The helicopter pilot to someone hanging onto the landing gear.
  • Title Card: See the page quote:
    ''I, who was born to die, shall live. That the world of animals, and the world of men, may come together, I shall live.
  • Token Romance: Averted. Despite having male and female protagonists, the romance angle isn't even on the table.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never learn whether Maynard survived being stabbed.