Planet of the Apes (1968)



George Taylor (Charlton Heston) lands on a mysterious planet along with three other astronauts,though their woman had died during the trip there.  Everything seems backwards: humans are mute and inferior to apes, the dominant species of the planet.

The early scenes as the astronauts are exploring the desert seemed a little drawn out for me.  I know it’s important to establish how the main characters will function: what makes them tick, why did they sign up for the project and such, but they could have gotten into the ape society sooner.

Though it’s an exaggerated version, the film does a great job of making us look in the mirror in how we treat animals.  A lot of the dialogue between apes when discussing humans is something that has been a flipped script in real life.  It makes me wonder what our reaction as a society would be if an ape, or other animal for that matter, could talk and reason and be to us what Taylor was to the apes.

Some of the wide shots and desert panning seemed basic and could have been done better.  However, following the opening credits this was helped by the chemistry with the cinematography and musical score.  The music creates an engaging suspense.

Apparently in the novel the film is based on, ape society is far more advanced and comparable to modern man.  I found it worked better with a more basic, barren, and for lack of a better term primitive society.  It makes the reveal at the end of the movie where Taylor sees the Statue of Liberty more of a surprise for a first-time watcher.

Aside from Planet of the Apes, I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the other four films that followed this one.  That’s one of many things I’d like to do, but that’s for another time.

The cultural impact of this film cannot be understated.  It was one of the first movie that had major merchandising involved, and 4 sequels within 5 years is no small feat.  I enjoyed watching Planet of the Apes, but it’s one of those that I really have to be in the mood for to truly enjoy.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


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