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In the year 1968, two movies came out that changed modern day
science-fiction films forever, 2001 A Space Odyssey was the most famous
out of the two, but Planet of the Apes stands on its own ground and
became a classic that it is universally acclaimed to be. Planet of the
Apes is still way better than all of the sequels and remakes that has
even been made.
I remember the first time, I watched Planet of the Apes. I was a major Sci-Fi geek who loved Star Wars and Blade Runner. I was sitting down on the couch with my nerdy glasses, watching T.V. When all of a sudden the movie started, my friends told me the movie was very cheesy and lame. So I had extremely low expectations, but I told, whatever, I'll give it a try. After the film finished, I was completely flabbergasted and amazed to have seen this work of art. The visuals were great and the movie was extremely entertaining. But that's not the main reason I loved the film so much. It raises a lot of questions about our modern day society without letting social commentaries get in the way of the drama and action.
The movie is easily one of the top ten best Sci-Fi films ever created, it stands high up with Star Wars, 2001 A Space Odyssey and The Day the Earth Stood Still. If you're a Sci-Fi, this movie is highly recommended because it deals with philosophical and sociological questions and its a must have.
10/10 for this Masterpiece.
No one I know under 40 had seen this film, though we all joked about it as
being a stereotypical "bad" film based on rumors. the title, and clips seen
here and there. Finally one weekend when I was working until 2:00 a.m. I
went home and there was a sequel on late night TV, during the 30 year Planet
of the Apes marathon. It made me curious about the original and I tracked
it down. I have to say it blew me away!
The film is philosophical, creative, absorbing and scary. Excellent commentary on religion and just about everything else. I strongly recommend to anyone who has not seen it. So far I haven't even been able to convince my friends to see it because there seems to be such a strong prejudice against it and some sort of entrenched belief it must be bad; in fact it is one of the finest films I've seen and I can see why it is a classic.
If you enjoy films that make you think you simply can't dislike Planet of the Apes.
1968s PLANET OF THE APES has been my favorite film since I first saw it
April of that year when I was eight years old. The movie had a huge
back then and I cannot emphasize more the power to grip the imagination
had -- and has -- and the shock the final image of the movie was back
I literally left the theatre stunned and speechless. No other movie of
youth had such impact, or created such suspension of disbelief. Over the
past thirty-four years PLANET OF THE APES has attained classic status and
it's a tribute to the film's excellence that there are so many comments
here on the Internet Movie Database that this film is better than the
thought it would be, or that it wasn't campy or cheesy as they'd always
thought, or that it was more intelligent and thought-provoking than most
films they've ever seen, and that despite the studio stupidly putting the
final shot -- one of the most famous last shots in the history of
cinema -- on the cover of the video, they were still stunned and haunted
PLANET OF THE APES is based on a 1963 French novel, "La planete des singes," by Pierre Boulle, most famous as the author of "La pont de la riviere Kwai" (1952), which became the 1957 film THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. The story tells of a French journalist, Ulysse Merou, who, in the year 2500 travels with two companions in a near-light speed spacecraft to the red-giant star Betelgeuse in the constellation of Orion. There they find a sister planet to earth, Soror, and after landing on a remote plateau discover a race of human beings that are no more than animals, naked and unable to speak. The three earthmen are stripped of there clothes by the humans, who hate anything that isn't natural. Their spacecraft is destroyed by the savage people and they are run off into the jungle. The next morning the tribe of wild humans are attacked by hunters, who are gorillas dressed like men, hunting like men, and acting and speaking like men. One of the earthmen is killed, another disappears, and Merou is captured, taken to a research lab, and subjected to scientific experiments.
A sympathetic female animal psychologist, Dr. Zira, a chimpanzee, is intrigued by Merou keenness and soon learns that this man is highly intelligent and able to learn speech. With her help Merou learns all about the simian civilization on Soror, in which the apes live in modern cities, drive cars, fly planes, and watch TV, and where conservative orangutans, especially one named Zaius, so fear this intelligent human being that they seek to have him destroyed. With the help of Zira's fiance, an archeologist named Cornelius, Merou unwittingly discovers a secret about the origins of intelligent life on Soror that's so dangerous he's forced to flee the planet of the apes and return to earth.
Boulle's novel is a satire in the tradition of Voltaire that mocks humankind's anthropocentric theory of the universe from which human beings derive their sense of importance, and is laced with the kind of harrowing ironies that Boulle was famous for.
The movie based on this book is an 'Americanized' adaptation of it. Rod Serling did the first drafts of the screenplay, simplifying the plot by fitting it into the mold of his "Twilight Zone" TV series and introducing an anti-nuclear war theme not present in the Boulle novel. Because of budget constraints the modern ape civilization had to be reduced to a less technological one, something more reminiscent of ancient Greece. In fact, after Michael Wilson, who had also adapted Boulle's "Bridge Over the River Kwai" to the screen, was brought in to do the final script drafts what emerged was a political allegory more akin to an Aesop fable than a Voltairian satire.
An improvement on the book was to turn the Merou character, now named Taylor, into a misanthrope and to reduce the scope of the story into a kind of 'misanthrope's comeuppance.' Charlton Heston was a perfect choice to play the unlikable American astronaut, having essayed such similar 'bastard' roles in 1954s THE NAKED JUNGLE, 1963s DIAMOND HEAD and 1963s 55 DAYS AT PEKING, and the movie would be a lot less funny and pointed without him.
Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter, as Cornelius and Zira, and Maurice Evans, as Dr. Zaius, enjoy some of the best performances on the screen, bringing the then-innovative makeup design of John Chambers to life under the intelligent and stylish direction of Franklin J. Schaffner. Also excellent in this Arthur P. Jacobs production for 20th Century-Fox is the veteran cinematographer Leon Shamroy's Panavision lensing, which makes great use of remote areas of southern Utah around Lake Powell to suggest an alien world, and Jerry Goldsmith's avant-garde musical score, which has become a landmark, cannot be emphasized more for contributing to the weird atmosphere and eerie mood of the movie. Rarely has a movie score so fit like hand-in-glove than this one.
PLANET OF THE APES was a box office smash in 1968, but if ever there was a movie that was more a victim of its own success it's this one. Four sequels, two TV series, numerous novelizations and comic book adventures, and a lamentable remake in 2001 have been spawned by its popularity, most of which has been so inferior in quality to have tarnished the reputation of this classy and intelligent SF film landmark. Luckily the qualities of the film remind viewers again and again of what noted New Yorker movie critic Pauline Kael titled her review of this movie, "Apes must be remembered, Charlie!"
When I recently, for fun, ranked my favorite films in a top 100 list,
of the Apes ended up at 33. It was the second sci-fi on the list, after
2001, which ranked #1. I have always been disappointed and irked at the
ill-will that some people have towards Planet of the Apes. I almost
assaulted someone who described Apes as "one of those so-bad-it's-funny
of movies" a few months ago. I take this film very seriously, and I wish
others would do the same.
I think one of the reasons there is so much animosity against this one is that it is undeniably dated. Not too much, but it would be difficult to sit a young teenager, raised on 1990s movies, down in front of it and have him/her enjoy it. Even a young adult, between the ages of 18 and 25, would find it difficult. Planet of the Apes definitely exists in a specific time, the late 1960s. This was the best decade for film, churning out tons of both American and foreign masterpieces. Times were rough, and the Vietnam War was growing in intensity by the time Planet of the Apes was made. Because of this, we see many references to the current dilemma. The film willy-nilly debates issues like hunting, violence, animal rights, evolution vs creationism, class structure, and nuclear war. Taylor tells a young, rebellious, teenage chimpanzee not to trust anyone over 30 (a common youth adage in the late 60s). Yes, it has so many topics that it seems to be about to burst at times. And, yes, the satire does go overboard once in a while. Still, it is all argued passionately. You can tell that everyone involved, even Heston, believes in what they are saying. In its own way, Planet of the Apes is as intellectual and philosophical a film as 2001. I know that, when teens and younger people go see the Tim Burton remake (which is not great, btw), there are going to be many who overpraise it and say that it is much better than the original. You would have to be mentally handicapped to honestly believe so.
The original 'Planet of the Apes' is better than the 2001 remake on almost
every level. May be Tim Burton's version looks better, no wonder with Burton
as the director, but the direction itself, the cinematography, the story and
the performances in Franklin J. Schaffner's original are much better and
Heston is Taylor, who crashes with his spaceship on what seems to be a deserted planet. He and two other survivors start searching for life. They run into other human beings, and at that time they are all attacked by apes. The apes speak English, the human beings are mute. In this society a human being is what apes are in our society. Animals, nothing more. The humans are taken for research, Taylor as well, and since he is shot in the neck he is not able to talk at first. One of his fellow survivors is dead, what happened to the other is unsure. A female ape who is a scientist discovers that Taylor understands her, and even thinks he can talk. Of course this is not what the high people in this society want to hear.
The movie has some very interesting elements. Worlds are upside down, as Taylor says, and in a way the movie puts a mirror in front of us. The human beings are humiliated in exactly the way we treat animals. What would we do if another mammal suddenly knew how to speak our language? We would probably react the same as the apes do in this movie and therefore it is even more interesting.
In liked the movie very much, and some very nice moments in particular. Early in the movie Taylor gets a woman in his cage. He calls her Nova (Linda Harrison). We know what the apes want, and it is funny because it is exactly how we do this kind of stuff to our animals. The apes are even surprised when Taylor wants to keep his woman, and therefore seems monogamous.
With some nice touches, a great and famous ending, some quotes that will sound very familiar, Charlton Heston as a pretty good leading man, a score from Jerry Goldsmith that is perfect for a movie like this, nice direction and a fine cinematography by Leon Shamroy this movie is a very good classic.
Absolutely incredible. Easily in my top 10 all time, and that's saying
something. This movie kept me captivated from the beginning all the way to
the end. It combined a super setting and effects (at least for '68) and the
casting was perfect. This movie included, in my opinion, one of the most
memorable line in film history, "get your damn paws of me, you stinkin'
apes!". Not to ruin it for anyone, the ending is also one of the best in
film history. This easily won my award for most entertaining and original
story ever, because it captivated the imagination, especially considering
the fact that it could actually happen (it's a stretch, but...) This is a
rather short response, but I could just go on and on saying how great it
was, but it would only be redundant. Overall, this movie was absolutely
9.5\10 stars (I'm a tough reviewer)
It's especially interesting that "Planet of the Apes" was released a
few months before "2001: A Space Odyssey", as they both look at the
same question: what will become of humanity (and how did we originate)?
Obviously, the really famous line is Charlton Heston's snap at his
captors, and the really famous scene is the end - which I won't tell
here for fear of spoiling the whole movie. And what an impressive movie
it is! Unfortunately, I can't say the same for Tim Burton's remake.
"POTA" should never have been remade. So, for a cinematic treat, stick
to this one and avoid the remake.
One more thing is that some people have pointed out that the portrayals of the simians were kinda racist. The blond, cultured orangutans are the nobles; the dark-haired, mildly nervous chimpanzees are the scientists; and the dark-skinned, incompetent gorillas are the police. Oh well. It's still a good movie.
In recent years sci-fi have been filled with flashing lights,
high-budget CGI effects and ridiculous stunts like in THE MATRIX and I,
ROBOT. If you don't like one sci-fi film you're unlikely to like any as
they're all the same. However, my dad took down PLANET OF THE APES from
our video shelf. Unlike most sci-fi films it was made in a time that
had to deal without CGI and relied completely on the break through
movie make-up as well as providing what people have voted time and time
again "The Greatest Film Ending". PLANET OF THE APES has a memorable
cast, simple plot and it keeps your attention even as the credits are
rolling at the end. Based on Pierre Boulle's lesser novel (La Planète
des singes AKA Monkey Planet) tells of an astronaut landing on a
distant planet and discovering that man's role as the superior life
form has been reversed with the apes. The film has many needed changes
to it to make it more watch-able and tap into the true fears at the
time the film was made. In 1968, everyone lived in fear of an atomic
bomb attack and PLANET OF THE APES truly taps into that fear, for
reasons I will not reveal but it is understandable why the story was so
popular at the time and why it shocked everyone.
PLANET OF THE APES tells the story of George Taylor (Charlton Heston), when he and his doomed astronaut friends find themselves stranded on a distant planet. It seems to be inhospitable with no life. However, after travelling throughout the place, which is famously referred to as "The Forbidden Zone", discover plenty of life including ape like humans and human like apes. Taylor is shot in the neck rendering him unable to speak. Treated as a wounded animal he is taken to a human-ape study lab where he meets Zira (Kim Hunter), a sympathetic and friendly chimpanzee. She almost straight away notices that Taylor's intelligence goes far beyond that of any other human, and she encourages him to speak. However, orangutan leader Dr Zaius sneers on Zira's and her fiancé Cornelius' (Roddy McDowall) belief in any human intelligence, and won't listen to reason. Despite Cornelius' skeptical feelings towards Taylor, he agrees to help prove his intelligence which is proved once he finally says his famous line: "Take your stinking paws of me you damn dirty ape!"
Heston is anything other then a likable character. Unlike Ulysse Merou in the novel Taylor is slightly moody, but a likable character who values his friendship with Zira and Cornelius. He represents what humans truly are that is self-centered, violent and dangerous. Though on stage he is reportedly (according to Laurence Olivier) truly a talented actor, on screen and in PLANET OF THE APES, Heston basically turned up and played himself. Nonetheless the character of Taylor works as you either love him or you hate him. The rebel Taylor is no different from the other pushy characters Heston has played over the years. With his tough, physical god-like body you suppose that in a film where the apes are pushing us humans about because we're basically behaving like apes he is just what the doctor ordered.
Of course we all know that it's the two lovable chimps Zira and Cornelius that we remember the most in the PLANET OF THE APES films for their charm and humor they bring to the story. Hunter's portrayal of Zira was a masterpiece on its own, giving one of the most powerful performances. It's fair to say that Zira is the strongest and most developed character in the film. Indeed she is the only ape that Taylor actually likes! With her wit and admirable sense of humor it's not surprising that most people asked who their favorite character is reply "Zira". Hunter manages to make Zira what she was meant to be, more human then ape. In fact, she's more human than most of the beautiful female actresses of the 60's films. Despite the fact she looks as ugly as hell in her ape make-up the charm still shines through.
Of course, if you don't love the intelligent and cool Zira, you always have intelligent and nerdy Cornelius. McDowell, next to Heston, is the most celebrated male actor in the films as he comes over as the nerd of the rebel gang that you just want to hug. In the film, Taylor seems to have a love-hate rivalry with Cornelius as they constantly challenge each other like full-blooded males do no matter how civilized. A good example of this is when Zira allows Taylor to kiss her on the lips as a goodbye and Cornelius makes his jealousy clear. However Taylor sticks up for him against Zaius, which shows not as much friendship as understanding. McDowell is an irreplaceable member of the cast who is near impossible to live up to.
PLANET OF THE APES is a mark in cinema history, famous for these talented artists, gripping story and an amazing ending that shocks you, scares you, breaks you and brings you to tears with the realization that you'll never truly experience a film like this again. Anyone who is anyone owes it to himself or herself to watch this film and experience the feeling. Even people who dislike sci-fi are likely to enjoy this. A film that truly did break STAR WARS and challenged it like no other film ever could. PLANET OF THE APES will live on in all of us. It will go on forever, find its way to younger audiences and will win them over just it won over us.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In a magnificent performance, Heston plays what he considers an
"existential" character... He is a cynic who hates mankind enough to
make him leave the Earth in search of "something better than man."
Heston tries to make sense of this "upside-down" world, and in the process, Pierre Boulle raises such issues as balance of power, racism, the role of government, and evolution... The apes are seen with cameras and guns, but strangely, the sight of a paper airplane shocks them...
Schaffner's ability to focus on the human element in the face of awesome spectacle is one of his greatest assets... He uses dizzying camera effects, very enthusiastic zooming and hand-held cameras at ground level during chases...
"Planet of the Apes" is a magnificent visual experience, from the emerald lake at the beginning to the threatening sea-shore at the end... The desolate landscapes of the Utah and Arizona National Parks, represented into primeval ruins, make an appropriately setting for the first appearance of the talking apes, rounding up humans like animals... The apes themselves remain an astonishing achievement of make-up and performance... John Chambers receives an Academy Award for his art...
The motion picture features one of Heston's strongest, most emotional performances... Heston escapes, fights and yells... He is violently treated, caged, dragged, and hosed with powerful jets of water... He runs barefoot through hills, mountains, plains and an ape city... He is raided by gorillas on foot and on horseback, humiliated by thoughtful chimpanzees and mad ape scientists, pelted by inhabitants of the Planet of the Apes...
The terrific supporting cast is wholly convincing: Maurice Evans in the role of Zaius, the scientist who does not want his race to suffer the fate of the humans; the two friendly chimpanzees named Zira and Cornelius (Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall) are superb...
"Planet of the Apes" also gives us something else:
-Heston and his crewmen have landed on an unknown planet... They hear sounds of galloping horses and guns being fired... But what they see is incredible... Apes on horseback!
- "Bright Eyes" does surprise the apes who believe humans aren't capable... With those enraged words ("Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty apes!"), he shakes the entire foundation of ape society and causes the Semians to retreat in shock...
- The crucial scene where Taylor has been given a hearing: As he tries to explain to his captors that he's come from another planet in a spaceship, the scene cuts to the monkey tribunal - sitting in the classic "hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil, see-no-evil - pose...
- When a shaved Taylor kisses Zira in front of Cornelius who is suffering without complaining... An indecisive Zira expresses: "Allright. But you're so damned ugly!"
- The ultimate scene: Having finally escaped from his captors with his mate Nova (Linda Harrison), Heston rides along the beach on horseback to the Forbidden Zone, once a paradise... Suddenly he spots something unusual in the distance... He remembers what Zaius told him, "You may not like what you find!" What he can see was not a rock but salt-stained metal... As he draws closer, the camera slowly draws back and up to reveal what must come as a terrible shock...
Backed by a magnificent and unusual Jerry Goldsmith musical score, "Planet of the Apes" is a stylish and thoughtful science fiction film, which starts and finishes splendidly... It is a superb exercise in fantasy, a fine suspense adventure, an exciting and provocative entertainment...
This film, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner ("Patton"), is one of the
stylized films of the late 1960's. "Planet of the Apes" - which was based
the novel by Pierre Boulle - is social commentary at it's best. The film's
post apocalyptic look is breathtaking, and Roddy McDowall (Dr. Cornelius),
Kim Hunter (Dr. Zira) and Maurice Evans (Dr. Zaius) are the standouts in
this finely written tale by Michael Wilson and "Twilight Zone's" Rod
Sterling. The ending - which is still considered one of the best twist
endings of all time - still doesn't disappoint. The film spawned four
sequels, novelizations, cartoons, a TV series, as well as a nicely done
remake by Tim Burton. This is a must see for all film purists.
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