Planet of the Apes-1968
Director-Franklin J. Shaffner
Starring-Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall
Top 100 Films-#97
Scott’s Review #363
Reviewed January 9, 2016
Planet of the Apes is a 1968 science-fiction, message movie, that stars one of the legendary greats, Charlton Heston. At the time of release, the film was a great film and quite visionary- and the message still holds up well today. Since certainly everyone on the “planet” must know the “surprise” ending, the film speaks volumes on the destruction of the world we know and love. Intelligently written, Planet of the Apes is memorable and was followed by a bunch of not so compelling or strong sequels, remakes, and reboots.
A group of astronauts crashes land on a strange planet- in the distant future. The men have no idea where they are or what time period it is. The planet is inhabited by apes, who are highly intelligent and speak and act just like human beings. They are dominant and the real humans are largely mute and incapable of doing much- they are kept imprisoned.
George Taylor (played by Heston) is the lead astronaut who, the apes realize, is capable of speech and assumed to be brilliant. The ape leader wants him killed, but sympathetic scientist and archaeologist apes Cornelius and Zira (played by Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter) are curious about Taylor and wish to experiment more.
To say nothing of the story, the prosthetic makeup and costumes are dynamic. The apes are obviously played by human actors, but the creatures do not appear fake or phony in any way. Furthermore, the sets look genuine and grand and hold up well in present times, nearly fifty years later. Nothing about the film appears to be remotely dated or losing its original appeal as some films inevitably do.
Planet of the Apes is a political film, and this message also holds up well in present times. How human beings have ruined their planet is the main point of the film, but this is wisely not revealed until the very end, with the now-famous scene of an escaped Taylor, running along the beach, only to realize in terror that the submerged and tattered Statue of Liberty is there. With horror, he realizes that human beings have destroyed planet Earth and the astronauts never actually left their own planet!
Fun and serious to watch all rolled up into one, Planet of the Apes is a film for the ages, with a distinct meaning and a story that audience members everywhere can absorb and relate to.
Oscar Nominations: Best Original Score for a Motion Picture (Not a Musical), Best Costume Design