Cert: PG Runtime: 112 mins Director: Franklin J. Schaffner Cast: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans,James Whitmore, Linda Harrison and Buck Kartalian.
Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!
As Rise of the Planet of the Apes will be out in cinemas soon, I thought it would be good if I would review the original Planet of the Apes from 1968.Planet of the Apes starts as space mission that left Earth in 1972 to travel in space at the speed of light for six months crash lands on a planet that doesn’t look too dissimilar to Earth. Only three crew members survive, Taylor (Chartlon Heston), Landon (Robert Gunner) & Dodge (Jeff Burton) who find themselves in desert like conditions & struggling to survive the hostile planet. Just as all hope seems lost they encounter a tribe of humans who are then attacked by a group of man like talking Apes who have become the dominant race on the planet with man being the beast who are rounded up, put in zoos & experimented on. In the attack Landon & Dodge are lost while Taylor is shot in the throat, unable to speak he is rounded up & put in a cage where kind Chimp female scientist named Zira (Kim Hunter) befriends Taylor & when he regains the ability to speak there are certain Ape hierarchy who want him dead so to preserve their own society & beliefs…
Planet of the Apes is as a true sci-fi classic. The script from Twilight Zone host, creator & head writer Rod Serling & Michael Wilson was based on the novel Monkey Planet by Pierre Boulle although by all accounts refines it a little bit & adds that twist ending which surely everyone now knows, Planet of the Apes is a good solid sci-fi action adventure that uses the role reversal of a dominant Ape society living next to uncivilised wild human tribes to make some nice points about humanity, where we are going & has some strong social satire as well. From unfair trials to the religion versus science debate to prejudice to wanting to destroy what we don’t understand to the ultimate devastation of war. Sure its all good stuff, it’s well written & it’s very well put together & the fact most of the main character’s are talking Apes it’s deadly serious & it all works surprisingly well on various levels as a film that entertains & social satire that has meaning. Some of the sci-fi elements don’t add up though, I don’t believe the concept of time travel as described here & after a thousand odd years would that doll still be in perfect working order? Also I just don’t believe Taylor wouldn’t have guessed he was on Earth, I mean there are people there, Apes there, the technology is the same & the trees, sky water & terrain is exactly the same too so it wouldn’t exactly take a genius to realise or even make an educated guess. Then there’s that iconic twist ending, sure it’s a great image but the fact everyone knows about it means it might not have the impact it once did & the fact most should realise that this is Earth means it shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise. That’s a minor quibble though in an otherwise very good sci-fi film that probably just about deserves its classic status.
The one outstanding area of Planet of the Apes is the Oscar-winning make-up effects which are really very impressive even forty years later, the effects are very convincing & while not as good as the remake, they hold up extremely well. There are some well staged action scenes too, in particular the sequence about thirty minutes in when the Apes attack & kill numerous humans while on horseback complete with memorable images of the Apes standing over the dead bodies of several humans posing for photographs. The opening as the three astronautstwalk through the harsh desert is also well shot & you can almost feel the heat & isolation. An extremely popular film at the time Planet of the Apes spawned four sequels, Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) & Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) as well as the short lived TV series Planet of the Apes (1974) & the animated TV series Return to the Planet of the Apes (1975) before it was remade as a hundred million blockbuster by Tim Burton back in 2001.With a supposed budget of about $5,800,000 this wasn’t mega budget but all money went on-screen it seems, this is a great looking & designed film. The acting is good especially from those wearing Apes make-up.Planet of the Apes is considered a sci-fi classic & despite one or two minor flaws I would largely have to agree, it’s maybe one of those iconic films that everyone should see at least once.