Planet of the Apes [1968]

45
597

CONTAINS SPOILERS

Somewhere in the Universe, there must be something better than man!

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner

Reviewed by Deep Red

Aka Monkey Planet aka El planeta de los simios

A bit of a change tonight. I wouldn’t normally bother with science fiction as I don’t like it very much, I much prefer horror. However, I do like some science fiction films and the Planet of the Apes film series is interesting.

A group of astronauts crash land in a lake on an unknown planet in the year 3978. They are Taylor (Charlton Heston), Landon (Robert Gunner), Dodge (Jeff Burton) and Stewart (Dianne Stanley). The others find Stewart dead, she didn’t survive the journey. As the survivors explore they eventually find signs of life, plants, scarecrows and an oasis with a waterfall. They ‘strip for a dip’ and their clothes are stolen by some primitive humans, mute and dressed in animal skins. They follow them to a cornfield where all hell breaks loose when they are attacked by gorillas on horseback with guns. Dodge is killed, Landon is hurt and Taylor is shot in the throat. Taylor is taken to Ape City with the other captives. He meets a chimpanzee who’s an animal psychologist called Zira (Kim Hunter) and an orangutan called Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans). Taylor’s kept in a cage and given a female, Nova (Linda Harrison). He also meets Zira’s fiancé, a chimpanzee called Cornelius (Roddy McDowall). Taylor befriends Zira and Cornelius and shows them he can write.

Taylor finally manages to escape but is soon recaptured and that’s when he regains his voice:

“Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”

Taylor is brought before a tribunal and discovers Landon has been lobotomised. Basically the outcome is that Zira and Cornelius are going to be indicted for heresy and Taylor will meet the same fate as Landon if he doesn’t tell the truth. With the help of Zira’s nephew Lucius (Lou Wagner), Taylor and Nova are freed and taken by Zira, Lucius and Cornelius to the Forbidden Zone….

Planet of the Apes looks beautiful on Blu-ray. It is a beautifully-made film, there’s no doubt about that. The locations are stunning, bloody amazing in fact. They’re supposed to have crash landed on an unknown planet and they nail it in my opinion. Once the apes come into it gets even better, I like the costumes, the makeup is superb and Ape City is nicely realised. The tribunal stuff goes on a bit but that’s typical of science fiction so it’s not out of place, just slows the film down a bit but it’s kind of interesting at the same time. Overall it’s an out-and-out classic and the ending is one of the greatest endings in film history in my opinion. Worth revisiting countless times, every bit a masterpiece. The first and I think it’ll always be the best.