Sunday, 3 January 2016
Planet of the Apes (5 Stars)
Despite its obviously low budget, this must be one of the best films ever made. Why didn't I include it in my list of 30 films to watch before you die? It's a masterpiece.
"Planet of the Apes" was made in 1967 and released in 1968. It's very similar in its look and feel to the original series of "Star Trek" that was being made at the same time. The space ship on which George Taylor (Charlton Heston) is travelling with his companions is just as clean and sterile as the Enterprise. The planet he lands on is just as barren as the planets visited in the Enterprise's five year mission to explore strange new worlds. I almost feel tempted to call Charlton Heston Jim Kirk as he stumbles across the strange new world with his two red-shirts, along on the mission only to be killed. And of course, the captain is the one who gets the girl, Nova, played by Linda Harrison, one of the few surviving cast members from the film. She can't talk, but when did that ever matter to Captain Kirk? Talking only gets in the way of the more important things in a relationship, like making out behind the rocks.
Of course, the strange new world the Captain is stranded on is actually the Earth, 2000 years in the future: November 25th, 3978, as the ship's chronometer points out with amazing accuracy. After some sort of global catastrophe, presumably man made, the Earth has been taken over by apes. Humans still exist, but they have regressed into mute savages, leading the apes to the conclusion that apes have evolved from man.
The film contains very obvious commentaries on our modern society. Dr. Zaius is the head scientist of the ape community, but also the defender of the faith. If there's ever a contradiction between science and the holy scriptures, the scriptures have to be true. Scientific research that's intended to disprove what is written is heresy. If the worst happens and evidence is discovered that contradicts the scriptures, the evidence has to be destroyed.
The new world is full of bigotry and discrimination. The justice system is a farce. It doesn't sound so different to today, does it?
It may interest my readers to know that I rebought this film on Blu-ray in the Black Friday sales in November. Actually it was a five-film box set, the original pentalogy, for a price that I couldn't refuse. I didn't watch the films straight away because I was busy with my 30 films to watch before you die list, and after that I was busy with the Medina Collection. I'm amazed by how good the film looks on Blu-ray compared with my old DVD. The picture has been lovingly restored with the full respect that the film deserves.