Planet of the Apes (1968)

Planet of the Apes
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
Written by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling based on the novel by Pierre Boulle
(number 356)

I never realised this movie was scripted by the guy who wrote/created the Twilight Zone. It all makes a great kind of sense now that I know that. I first watched these films when I was about eleven. Some summer around that time the holiday TV scheduling included all the original planet of the apes films and I watched as many of them as I could on Mum and Dad’s little portable TV.

Things which date this movie in the first five minutes: Smoking in space, beards growing during cryo sleep, the one woman astronaut dying before we even meet her. The design of the spaceship is beautiful though, very reminiscent of the design in 2001.

The cinematography is stunning. Especially at the start when they’re climbing around on the rock formations. I was curious about where this was all filmed and it turns out it’s around the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Makes me want to visit it even more.

The ape prosthetics are in some ways genius and in some very poor. The mouth flaps are often poorly articulated but there’s a lot of emotion in the eye region, especially on Zira. It’s quite beautiful to watch the changes in her expressions.

Questions: how did the apes get Latinate words? (ape child called Quintus) Why are there no other animals than apes, man and horses? Anna had never seen the film before and made the assertion that it’s a movie that’s really about cruelty to animals. It certainly makes sense to have that parallel with the newer films ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ is certainly about that. I wondered it it was also about racism, the treatment of others as lesser, as not covered by law. Possibly it’s just about an ape planet but where’s the fun in that. Speculative fiction exists to make us think deeper about things, doesn’t it?

Does it make me love the people? I really love Zira. She’s an ape not a human but she’s definitely people and about the most sympathetic character. I love Nova as well because she has such sweet expressions, but I find Taylor quite hard to sympathise with. Possibly because his dialogue is often so ham fisted? Or possibly his sixties swinger attitude towards women.

Bechdel test: Nova and Zira are the only named women characters.

Best line:

George Taylor: But one more thing – if anybody’s listening, that is. Nothing scientific. It’s purely personal. But seen from out here everything seems different. Time bends. Space is boundless. It squashes a man’s ego. I feel lonely. That’s about it. Tell me, though. Does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother? Keep his neighbor’s children starving?

Iconic lines: Get your filthy hands off me you damn dirty ape!

You blew it up! Damn you all to hell!

State of Mind: It’s a highly entertaining film, lots of great moments and aside from a few things it generally holds up pretty well. The story taps in to some pretty primal fears humans have. Anna knew the ending from having watched Stargate Universe, which is somewhat hilarious to me. I enjoyed watching it again. Anna said she quite enjoyed it too, so two thumbs up and an A++ rating from us.

Watched movie count


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