Okay, so I think I asked the wrong question. I had asked: what does Twig Creature want? I even thought I had an answer: I was convinced that Twig Creature would want to procreate. That would create this great circle, from the birth of Twig Creature to the next generation; it would show hope, and connect us to the Creature by way of making us ponder the succession of generations onwards through prehistory to history to modernity to we, the audience, sitting there in the theatre. I imagined, as was suggested by Terminator E and Libidoless I think, a succession of tragi-hilarious obstacles thrown in our hero’s way, and finally, victory, somehow or other, I guess through finding a mate and having a new kid.
However, what we really want to figure out is: what is Twig Creature’s dilemma? That’s how we make it all engaging. We’re not just watching a little cave-person enduring various trials, we are, as Neandertaler suggests, seeking to hold opposites in tension, or as Urvater suggests, trying to pose dilemmas, which we, the audience, also feel intensely.
I think the objective of art is not to teach — by which I mean, to have a philosophical objective, to make a case for a perspective. If we go in with an answer, we’re propagandists. We want to go in with a question. And leave it unanswered.
The ideal artistic dilemma has two or more solutions, both of which entail sacrifice and success. Like in life — there’s never one direction that doesn’t destroy other possibilities. Or, at best, like Urvater’s Kohlberg’s dilemmas, which are only answerable insofar as one applies different frames of reference — clan loyalty, constitutional ideals, and so on. But from a different frame, a completely different solution would be the right one. (I think the different frames are held in constant tension in life, and that in actual truth none actually supersedes the other — they are simply in conflict. See A Theory of Evolution for more babbling about this.)
My point: something about cave-people presents some kind of question. What’s the question? How can that question be dramatized? Maybe Twig Creature is presented with a technological innovation that will make the tribe more comfortable (less ignorant) but that also entails a great loss of vitality, or something? (That’s a terrible idea, I think, but I threw it in there because at least it seems to echo some of the thoughts people have been having about what we’ve lost, how we’ve lost it, since prehistory.)
Is there something to what I’m saying? Or do I need to finish my coffee before I start posting?