Planet of the Apes (1968)
Yesterday me and my pals decided to check out the latest Hollywood blockbuster in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes". Which of course is a remake/reboot of the original series of movies produced by Arthur P. Jacobs. After having a kick-ass time, we started discussing the other billion Planet of the Ape films. I realized that I barely remember anything from the older movies, and at certain points I was confusing plot points from the sequels with the original. So I made sure to re-visit this classic piece of American cinema.
We follow a group of Astronauts who are the first humans to utilize time travel. The setting is given to us from a narrative from the main character in Taylor. He is played by the legendary Charlton Heston, who by the way like in half of his movies will be nearly butt naked the entire film. Shit goes a little sour, and their landing didn't go nearly as planned. The only female of the ship died while in cryogenetic sleep of what apparently seemed to be old age. The ship itself crash landed into the center of a lake. As a result, Taylor and his crew realized that they are basically screwed and stranded on this deserted planet.
Heston and the boys cross a vast desert, hoping to find food or water. They eventually do, in a very seductive scene where they all strip down and go skinny dipping. We're done introduced to these cave-men like human beings, who steal all their clothes. The Astronauts are not sure what to make of these primitive humans, but something far more outlandish happens before they can really settle in their thoughts. A bunch of humanoid apes show up and start going buck wild. Left and right, humans are getting shot at and captured; including our beloved antagonist.
The rest of the movie the audience is thruster into witnessing Heston being treated like an animal. Taylor's world is flipped upside down, here he is an animal with no rights, who is thought to be soulless, stupid and even a pest. Even in today's day in age, on a rather subconscious level I felt a little disturbed and awkward witnessing this backward world where Humans are treated like animals. The ape animal psychologist, Dr.Zira (Kim Hunter), is much more loving and kind to beast (which is what humans are often called in this gorilla culture). She believes that Taylor is different, mainly due to his insanely high intelligence. There are is an issue for a major part of the movie, in that due to an injury Taylor cannot talk so there is no definitive proof that he is smarter than your average human.
Here lies the famous quote, "Get your paws off me you dirty ape!", which Taylor yells out in the center of the ape village. Gasp are amongst everyone's faces. To be honest, the movie has quite a few good lines, but most of the dialogue is pretty cheesy and elementary. Anyhoot, the main plot of the film is Dr. Zaius, who is the minister of science as head priest conspires to make sure that apes do not know how intelligent humans really are. At every chance he gets, he tries to make Taylor look primitive or a menace to society. When all chips are down, he often brings up the good lord which declared that Apes were created in his image, and there is no way that humans could rival an apes intelligence. Also, he basically gives a big middle finger to the idea of evolution, which in their culture is outlawed due to sacrilegious ideas. This sounds very familiar to another certain culture we are all familiar with, aye?
Overall, the plotline is told at a comfortable pace. There are many subplots, themes and changes in the storyline. The movie takes its time to let a lot of the stuff sink in, which in turn adds suspense to the film. There is a very famous twist at the end, which everyone basically knows - but it is another plus to the films social commentary.
The characters aren't really highly developed, and they're pretty straight forward. Dr.Zaius who is kind of a villain who fights for the greater good probably has the most depth to him. There is this really hot bimbo cave-woman, who is kinda thrown in to be Taylor's mate. She doesn't say jack shit the entire movie, but she's nice eye candy for sure. Zira and her husband, the submissive and easily intimidated archeologist Cornelius are likable people as well, simple but likable.
The two Astronauts at the start of the film don't really fit in all that well in the movie. They are given development, but they disappear from the movie rather abruptly, never really contributing anything to the main plot. There seems to be a sub-plot that is never really explored, since one of them was very optimistic which is a folly to Taylor's character who is always negative.
The acting isn't really good, but not really bad. A little hokey at times, but it's nothing that will detours too much from the movie. Heston is kinda hit or miss here, his charisma is what really carries him. Though a lot of the time in the movie he kinda acts over dramatic, but then again that's why everyone loves him.
Visually, I found the movie to be very pleasing. The apes are given this rather intimidating humanoid presence, but there is a sense of sophistication which comes from their stature and clothes. For what ever reason, I really liked the scene the Astronauts are crossing this forbidden desert, I'm starting to become a rather large fan of landscapes. Maybe because so many movies these days take place in computer rendered backgrounds. The ape towns and building interiors are all well done, though not anything special.
I really dig movies that have a lot of themes, in which "Planet of the Apes" certainly delivers. Some of the themes might be too in your face. But the situation is an allegory to mankind letting religion get in its way of scientific discovery. A quote which I thought captured this perfectly said by Zira's nephew to Dr.Ziaus, something along the lines of "if we don't discover the truth, how can our technology ever become better?" The racial commentary is rather obvious, given the premise of the movie. But there are also other little ti-bids. For instance, you learn right away that Chimpanzees (basically all the dark skin apes), were only recently given equal rights. Coincidentally, or not the white apes are the ones in charge. Then of course, the infamous statue of Liberty scene, in which that covers the drastic fear of Nuclear holocaust which was in everyone's mind through out the Cold War years.
Overall, the movie is well placed, suspenseful, thought provoking and is the type of movie that makes everyone rethink about their morals. It has a few good messages that are delivered in ways that do not slow down the movie. The movie can be a little silly at times, like for some reason Charles Heston can out muscle Guerrilla men (I guess apes got too soft once they discovered technology), but it's in good fun. I recommend this movie to just about anyone, it's bizarre premise and social commentary are things that can entertain just about any demo-graph. Well, okay if you're really religious, there's a good chance you might find this movie is distasteful and ignorant. But if you don't sleep with a Quran in your hand every night, then check this one out!