In honor of the upcoming film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I wanted to do a little article. At some point, I would love to do a separate review of each of the films, but consider this an oddity, an appetizer and a primer for the upcoming film.
For those who don't know (are there any?) Planet of the Apes (1968) directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and based off the novel La planète des singes by Pierre Boulle is one of the lynch-pins of pop culture and one of the masterpieces of science fiction. The film centers around an astronaut crew that is unfortunate enough to have crash landed on what they assume to be a desolate planet, but is actually a planet ruled by simians. In this ape society, humans are treated as lower life forms and captured or murdered on sight. Captain Taylor (Charlton Heston) finds himself captive and held for study by two sympathetic scientists, Zira and her fiancé Cornelius. Taylor is soon discovered to be..not like the others. I could go on, but if you haven't seen this film, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Planet of the Apes is an allegory for the hubris of society itself. As long as there is civilization, there will be politics, greed, murder and war. The final scene in this film has become the stuff of cinema legend. I often wonder what it would have been like to be in an audience for this film in 1968. Just to feel the realization ripple through the audience as the last scene unfolded would have been priceless.
This film was followed by four sequels, two failed television series and a terrible remake directed by Tim Burton. The series has its ups and downs, but when viewed as a whole, it presents some very exciting ideas about the nature of science, celebrity and most important-time.
Some people don't know this, but Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, was originally approached to write the adaptation of Boulle's novel. (If you're unfamiliar with The Twilight Zone and Serling's work, you're either too young or in desperate need of a sledge hammer to the face). Serling turned in his draft and several re-writes took place making it the classic we love today. Upon reflection, one could view this film as a feature length Twilight Zone episode. All of the hallmarks are there: sci-fi setting, imprisoned hero, allegories for modern society and of course-the twist ending. Well apparently someone else felt the same way, because the people at heyokmagazine have put together a Planet of the Apes-Twilight Zone episode. Complete with bookends, credits and a black and white treatment. Its a fun experiment that works (for the most part). I absolutely adore the original, but this little oddity is a gem. I'll have to find a way to put it on DVD.
The top video is the trailer for the upcoming film Rise of the Planet of the Apes and below are the three parts to the POTA Twilight Zone Episodes. Enjoy!
P.S. The Hughes Reviews: Weird Science will be posted this Friday. Thank you for your patience.