If you were a wee lad of eight when the original Planet Of The Apes was released back in 1968, there is no way that you would expect to be still thinking about it in 2017 at a slightly less wee age (figure it out; we’re not running a math class here). Unless, of course, you’re obsessed with these sorts of things—then it’s no surprise at all.
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But fueling that ongoing obsession is that the concept was reborn in 2011 with Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, continued three years later with Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and brings a trilogy of sorts to a close in a few weeks with War For The Planet Of The Apes.
The original idea truly does feel as though it could have come out of The Twilight Zone (and if you’re not familiar with that Rod Serling-created show, find it… right after you finish this article).
An astronaut arrives on an alien-looking planet, comes across savage humans, and muses to his fellow astronauts that if this is the best the planet has to offer, they’ll be running the place in six months. A solid aspiration, if it weren’t for the damn apes. Apes on horseback. Armed with rifles.
It’s a moment that shocked audiences around the world (personal musing: how shocked could they have been if they bought a ticket for a movie called Planet Of The Apes?)—though not as much as the film’s stunning ending, which remains mind-blowing to this day—and launched into an adventure that would continue in some form or another for nearly 50 years, encompassing nine films and two television series (one live action, one animated). Whether you're a fan of the original film series or the new one, the subject has remained an intriguing one.
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What follows, then, is FHM’s look back at the entire Apes saga, from Planet to War and everything in between.
Charlton Heston is astronaut George Taylor, who, along with two astronauts—who (spoiler alert!) don’t make it to the final credits—finds himself on a bizarre planet in which intelligent, talking apes rule supreme and humans are savages. He spends most of the film trying to figure it out, as well as his own place in the universe. All this while encountering the likes of compassionate chimpanzees Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and Zira (Kim Hunter), and the not-so-compassionate orangutan Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans), who views him as a blight on society that threatens everything by his mere existence. Towards film’s end (and get set for a major spoiler), Taylor and a mute woman named Nova (Linda Harrison) escape the apes and set off on their own. But then Taylor discovers the shattered remains of the Statue Of Liberty on the shoreline, and realizes that he’s been home all the time. That his ship passed through a “time curve” and this upside down world is actually future Earth. Roll credits.
Charlton Heston (actor, “George Taylor”): “I was quite delighted with the way it worked. It’s not a profound film, but it’s a good film. It makes some valuable observations on the human condition. It’s kind of a black satire, if you like. And it takes a rather gloomy view of the human condition, but I don’t think an inaccurate one. I think it’s important to make a strong distinction between the first film and the others. The whole structure of the ape society changed markedly in the other films. In the first film, the ape society is kind of a ‘monkey-see, monkey-do’ imitation of human society, inevitably including the worst traits. The focus shifts in the sequels and there’s a great deal of carrying on about the gorillas being fascists and the chimpanzees are the good socialists. The later films just got very political; very 1960s political.”
20th Century Fox