Cinematographer Michael Chapman directed this John Sayles adaptation of Jean M. Auel's best-selling ode to Cro-Magnon women. The story begins at the moment in pre-history when the last of the Neanderthal men were becoming extinct and the superior race of Cro-Magnons were starting to supersede them.
Focusing on a tribe of wandering Neanderthals who adopt a young girl named, Ayla (played as an adult by Daryl Hannah). She grows tall, lithe, and smart. The Neanderthals quickly accept her into their tribe, but once a tribal member, Ayla begins to question the tribe's male chauvinistic presumptions.
Unable to conceive of why only men are given weapons, she takes it upon herself to learn how to use a slingshot. She then questions the tribe's assumptions concerning sexual politics. She learns to count and becomes the assistant to the local medicine expert.
As the seasons wear on, the tribe utilizes Ayla's knowledge for their own good while Ayla's continues to try the patience of the tribe with her unspeakable feminist demands.