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Planet of the Apes (1968)


Year: 1968
Cast: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter
Country of Origin: U.S.
Rating: G
Time: 112 mins.

Planet of the Apes is a brilliant piece of science fiction that analyzes the evolution of man  with intricacy that it's no wonder it's been remade and rebooted so many times. Based on the 1963 French novel of the same name by Pierre Boulle--it is a timeless story of a space explorer George Taylor, (Heston) who crash lands on a foreign planet only to discover that apes can talk, think, and reason. This barren planet comes to life when he encounters humans that are seemingly disguised as inarticulate primates who are treated like animals. During the Ape's manhunt, Taylor and his men get jumbled into their pursuit and eventually Taylor gets shot in the throat and captured. Without the power of his voice, the apes treat him like a savage strapping his neck and hands in chains like an uncontrollable beast. But when the ape leader Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans) discovers that Taylor, nicknamed Bright Eyes, can speak, he reacts in horror and deems that he is a freak of nature who must be executed. Sympathetic ape scientists Cornelius (McDowell) and animal psychologist, Dr. Zira (Hunter) risk their lives to save Taylor and uncover the truth of his existence. 

The film is an astounding and mesmerizing look of what occurs if the roles of the revolution of man was reversed and if apes obtained the power of speech while man's growth regressed into a primate state. I already watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) that gave insight to the beginning and reason to ecelerate development of the apes' but without the prequel, Planet of the Apes doesn't give an explanation to why our distant ancestors have now become the superior evolutionary being. The film forces the audience to examine the definition of man and our environment as a whole. Without speech and reasoning, humans are nothing but savages who express their shortcoming only through anger. Taylor is boiling with frustration as he tries to communicate with Dr. Zira through the means of writing in sand or sounding out words. Although the apes have evolved into talking, thinking, and reasoning beings, their inability to see beyond their ignorance is their downfall. Except Dr. Zaius, who uses his ignorance to shield Taylor and his fellow apes in discovering the meaning of their true existence. While Cornelius and Dr. Zira are trying to progress the evolution of man, Dr. Zaius' lack of action and acknowledgement retracts their advancement as superior animal and beings, ironically to a form less than man.

Hands down, this film is one of the first and best twist in film history. The film stick to your bones, rattling your brain, searching for any clue to the apes' uprising. When the story doesn't throw you a bone, it substitutes it with a twist so grand, if I didn't already know the ending, I would have thrown my hands up in the air too and screamed "Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!" Heston continues his streak of playing the archetypal heroin with conviction and poise even in his barbaric state that helps him effortlessly carry the film on his shoulder. For a film that got rebooted, franchised, and remade too many times to count, the film has come a long way from it's golden days of on location shooting and natural lighting. With Tim Burton's failed attempt (which I need to re-watch!) and 2011's The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I hope this humanistic story never dies. But no matter how many times the story gets mashed and molded anew, Planet of the Apes is a timeless adventure tale that is nicely paced, unrelentingly entertaining, and most importantly, philosophical about what it truly means to be a man. B+


1 critiques :

Andrés at: January 16, 2015 at 10:48 PM said...

Really great review! Here's the link if you want to post it, as I noticed the youtube video is no longer running: http://www.veoh.com/watch/v52826447ZZytYW3p?h1=Planet+of+the+Apes

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