Retro-Review: Planet of the Apes (1968)

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Planet of the Apes (1968)

Released: April 3rd, 1968

Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner

Writers:  Michael Wilson, Rod Stirling (Screenplay) Pierre Boulle (Novel)

Cast: Charlton Heston, James Whitemore, Roddy McDowall

Plot:

An astronaut crew crash-lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved.

Opening Thoughts:

In my youth, I never liked any of these films. I found the masks to be rather silly and the overall content of the film to be boring. Then again, I was a teenager and so many things about life and so much more I did not know. As I’ve grown older and my taste in movies more refined, Planet of the Apes has really grown in its respect. Now with this latest viewing, I can still take note of where it falters, but more so appreciate its accomplishments.

Dislikes:

The first half of the movie is rather slow, you are waiting for various things to build to the main conflict, but it drags its feet in the process.  I like the ideas being represented and discussed, but there needs to be another element to keep me invested in the film.

We are stuck waiting for certain elements to come forward and we find ourselves frustrated. That is I believe the point, but I feel it drags on too long.

Likes:

Probably my favorite aspect of this film is the music score by Jerry Goldsmith. It is surreal and yet so fitting for this work.

While I may have my reservations about Charlton Heston, I will admit he puts on a fine performance in this role.  Overall, the acting in this film is solid. Though I wouldn’t say exceptional.

Beyond the Film

A good science fiction movie will ponder a possibility not yet known to provide a warning or cautionary tale to help humanity.  This film is a prime example of this concept. The likelihood of primates becoming the dominant species (well, you know what I mean) on this planet is unlikely, but what it represents is far more powerful!

This movie is a warning about our place on the history of this Earth, a message to us to not forget that we too could one day be reduced to rubble and dust. Barely recognizable of who we are today.  It is a message to be able to push ourselves to evolve, to grow into better people as a society. To not let our petty differences create our downfall. A message seldom listened to, unfortunately.

It also shows us that we must be cautious in following a religion or anything/anyone else blindly. We may find ourselves restricting actual discovery and research when we stop asking difficult questions. Our minds must remain open!

Finally, it reveals the horrid truth about animal testing and how we view animals even when they are intelligent and emotional beings.  We consistently consider ourselves so beyond them. The treatment they undergo in the name of scientific research can be unimaginably cruel.

Conclusion:

It took me into my adulthood to appreciate this movie, but I’m certainly glad I gave it another chance. It speaks not just to our past and future, but very much our present. It is both frightening, but also a precautionary tale.

The Planet of the Apes Ladder

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

War For the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Planet of the Apes (2001)

 

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