In the year A.D 3978, a spaceship and its small crew unexpectedly crash land on a distant planet. Upon wandering the unknown landscape for some time, the crew then learn that mute humans reside there, along with an intelligent race of talking apes, who regard themselves as the original beings and will do absolutely anything to keep humans suppressed. An all-time great that still stands up rather memorably in 2022. It’s worth noting that Planet of the Apes is currently streaming on Disney+.
Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Writers: Michael Wilson, Rod Serling
Starring: Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, Roddy McDowall, Linda Harrison
To this day, Planet of the Apes can stake a claim as being one of the most well-known film franchises of our generation. The Sci-Fi flick is responsible for a countless number of sequels, modern day remakes and even television spin-off shows, all stemming from the widely acclaimed release, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and distributed to audiences in April 1968.
With a relatively large budget for the time of production, the filmmakers managed to make great use of it, showcasing some spectacular cinematography, with filming locations such as Lake Powell, near to the Arizona-Utah border, being particularly noteworthy. These cinematic moments, especially early in the flick, played a huge part in convincing the viewer that they were witnessing a beautiful, yet desolate and imposing planet, millions of miles away from the one they reside. The costume design was also convincing to an extent, especially with this being prior to any computer-generated imagery being used. With that being said, some of the apes did look far more intimidating and menacing than others.
Another aspect of the film that I found particularly impressive, was the simplicity of the story presented and the rather modest runtime of ninety-two minutes. In contrast to some needlessly convoluted plots and excessive runtimes that many Sci-Fi productions are known for. The story was compelling and provided more than enough interest from start to finish, concluding with an iconic final scene, which is still talked about as being one of the all-time finest movie moments.
In terms of the cast, it’s pretty safe to say that Charlton Heston stole the show with his portrayal of George Taylor – the star of most scenes. Interestingly, it’s noted that Charlton filmed while suffering with an illness, the flu, contributing largely to his characters “hoarse voice”. Elsewhere, Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall portrayed Zira and Cornelius, two of the apes, while Linda Harrison also starred, but as one of the mute humans, Nova.
As previously mentioned, Planet of the Apes spawned several different sequels and remakes, including Planet of the Apes (2001), but it could be argued that none of those come anywhere close to the intrigue and originality that this one brought to the table. Planet of the Apes is now streaming on Disney+ and I’d strongly recommend it.
“Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!”George Taylor – Planet of the Apes