Tyler and I have been making a lot of progress in the past few weeks, especially when it comes to the films that we both need to see. Due to the fact that we are on the same side of the country this summer (and most conveniently in the same apartment) we’ve been watching our “Both” films together. The latest film to get the Ryan-Tyler viewing treatment is the 1968 sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes!
So, what did I think of the original Planet of the Apes? I liked it a lot! It should be noted that science-fiction is one of my absolute favorite genres in both literature and film (though in literature, I do tend to be more partial to fantasy, while it is reversed when concerning film, but I digress). This film is a really great example of an old-fashioned science-fiction film. Ever since Star Wars was released in 1977, science-fiction films have been more interested in action-adventure storylines that are quest-based or disaster-based. They’ve become more like fantasy films since Star Wars was released, which makes sense because Star Wars formed its story out of the mythological tropes that have been around since Aristotle (although nowadays, the modern science-fiction film has a new name and it’s called the superhero movie). Meanwhile, Planet of the Apes was released in 1968, the same year that what many consider the greatest science-fiction film ever made was released: 2001 – A Space Odyssey. Science-fiction films concerned themselves with exploring scientific concepts and debating social issues that were hot-topics of the day.
Let’s be clear though, I’m not comparing Planet of the Apes to 2001. They are completely different movies with completely different goals. 2001 is trying to be more of an art piece, while Planet of the Apes is escapist entertainment. It may be more thoughtful than most escapist entertainment found today, but it is escapist entertainment. This film is most similar to the original Star Trek series. They both get a lot of mileage out of mixing entertaining stories with relevant social and scientific issues, and they are both incredibly cheesy. Let’s face it, this is a movie where a bunch of talking monkeys rule the world. It’s silly! But like the original Star Trek series, that’s part of what makes the film fun.
One of the major themes that this movie deals with is the issue of science vs. religion. Even today, this is still a very touchy issue, and while the film tends to side more heavily with the scientific side, I felt that it did a fairly good job of presenting the religious side as well. The main point I wanted to mention was the conversation between Charlton Heston and Dr. Zaius where Dr. Zaius reveals to him that their scriptures foretold of men that were intelligent like apes and to beware of them because they are harbingers of destruction or something of that sort. This prophecy turns out to be completely right as evidenced by the end of the film where it’s revealed that the planet is Earth and it was humans who destroyed it and paved the way for the apes to take over. It give credence to what the scriptures tend to say about humanity (that we are fallen, imperfect beings), and therefore doesn’t completely dismiss the value of scriptures and religion as they are perfectly suited to reveal to us aspects of our nature that science doesn’t answer as well. I’m glad that was included.
Before I wrap this up, a few stray observations:
The make-up was awesome! Even though the lips didn’t move very well, I still believed they were talking apes.
Charlton Heston is at his Charlton Hest-iness in this film (chewing up the scenery every time he’s on screen).
Really fun, classic movie. Go watch it.
Oh yeah! I’m supposed to put a rating. I forgot. That could’ve been awkward. 9/10.
Okay, that took a lot longer to write than it was supposed to. Next up is Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai. Hopefully that won’t take as long. Laterz!