Planet of the Apes (1968)

Article #1773 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-21-2006
Posting Date: 6-20-2006
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
Featuring Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter

When several astronauts crash-land on a planet, they find themselves in a world where apes are the dominant species.

Though I like the whole “Planet of the Apes” movie cycle, when it comes right down to it, this is the only one that really matters. It is, at heart, a satire on the faith vs. science controversy that surrounds evolution, but it drives its points home by reversing the species and putting an intelligent man in the position of the lower animal on the scale, and, as a result, also becomes about the inhuman treatment of animals. The acting is fine from all concerned, the Jerry Goldsmith score (which occasionally even mimics the sound of simians) is excellent, and the ape makeup is outstanding; they would cheapen the process in the later films of the series, and it showed. Still, there are a few problems. I’ve never quite reconciled the fact that the apes are experimenting with brain surgery and have high-powered guns while living in what seems to be a relatively primitive environment (horse, stone buildings) that would seem to contradict their ability to manufacture such items (the test footage with Edward G. Robinson indicates that the original conceptions were somewhat different), and the sense of humor is forced, in particular the “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” gag feels contrived (though it was nice to finally see the whole thing in widescreen). Still, the movie has earned its classic status and still holds up very well today. And, even if you already know the ending (and who doesn’t?), it’s still a great one.


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