First Man (2017 documentary)


I watched this video today. It’s a dramatization of human evolution using actors in makeup and is quite well done. They covered quite a bit of detail on what is known about human evolution over the last few million years.

It was in the last 5 minutes of the 90 minute documentary that I became disappointed. They acknowledged that something important happened 100,000 years ago in one small group of hominids in Africa, and that group quickly displaced all of its many close relatives around the world, and then took over the planet. But unlike with other earlier important events like walking, running, hunting, tools, fire, and cooking, they did not even speculate what happened. Nor did they seem to appreciate its significance.

It’s amazing how many people miss the forest for the trees.

This documentary was ripped by MVGroup and is available at the usual torrent places, or you can pay for it here.

Thirty million years ago a new group of creatures appeared on planet Earth: the great apes. From their ranks arose one family, gifted with exceptional skills: our protagonists.

This family would change the face of our world forever.

Moving upright in the trees, they were then lords of the canopy, reigning supreme over limitless forests stretching from Europe to Asia. They founded a new social way of life. They created a language. They invented education as a way of passing on knowledge to their children.

But the day came when the forest no longer sufficed to feed them. Little by little, they ventured onto the ground where they developed hunting skills, and tools to improve their skills.

This early family expanded in number, producing the need to become collectively organized. Politics reared its head. Power structures and warfare soon followed.

Some now decided to risk liberating themselves for good from the world of the trees.

Our ancestors were hungry for freedom. But on the savannah, the predators were absolute kings. So our ancestors invented weapons. And, for the first time, challenged the supremacy of the big cats. A new era had begun.

Man’s early ancestors set off to conquer the world, to explore the unknown, to adapt to every environment. And one day, to conquer fire – a discovery that made them invincible.

They built shelters. They transformed their environment. But still this did not slake their thirst for more. They sought to fathom Nature’s mysteries. They invented stories to explain the inexplicable. Now, they are Men.

Here, for the very first time in television history, is the saga of our origins, told through the story of one single family – an epic journey upon which the latest scientific discoveries shine an exciting new light.

10 thoughts on “First Man (2017 documentary)”

  1. Thanks Rob. I got the torrent from the MVGroup site. It did a short, but accurate job of showing how homo sapiens spread the planet wide like a cancer. They made it sound as if it was wondrous – just wait. It’s what humans do. Totally self involved – it’s all about me/us. 2017 will blow the records out of the book for weather disasters in the US and elsewhere. All AGW Jacked and that’s at 1.2 C above the 1880’s baseline. The majority have no idea what’s coming.


  2. This was a badly done “docu-drama” rather than an actual documentary. The actors make it even worse – they all look like B movie monkey-men. It is so rife with conjecture (presented as fact when it is no such thing) that when they DID finally show some restraint (the last 5 minutes that you found so disappointing) it was far too little, far too late. They used the absolute worst hairy-cloth Jo-Ann’s probably carries to make their monkey suits. Still, I could have tolerated the low production values if the science hadn’t been of even lower quality. Seriously. If you have the LEAST bit of interest in the evolution of man, this is a definite pass.


      1. Just started reading this recent book, “Humanimal”, which covers some of the hypotheses & evidence – cognitive leap or crawl? Even the ‘leap’ is a many thousands of years leap, but they gotta make it sound dramatic eh – Hyperbole rules. 20 years ago PBS NOVA had a documentary on the topic called “The Mind’s Big Bang” (#6 of their good 7 part evolution series).


        1. Thanks. I have that PBS series in my library and watched it 4 years ago. I do not recall it answering the big questions that Varki addresses. I’ll watch it again to make sure I did not miss something.

          Thanks for the tip on Humanimal. Rutherford seems to be making the argument that many human behaviors are not unique. I agree with this point. (See also Beyond Words by Carl Safina which makes the same argument.) So I went straight to Humanimal’s table of contents and looked for the chapter on belief in life after death and the tendency to deny unpleasant realities. This vital chapter does not exist so I’m not optimistic that he sees what is important to see. But I’ll read it nevertheless.


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