Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Planet of the Apes has got to be one of the oldest, strongest, most enduring, most influential, and most referenced dystopian films of all time. Colonel George Taylor is one of Charleton Heston’s most memorable roles, with some of the most memorable lines and scenes in film history.
The basic premise is that a group of astronauts are traveling to a far away galaxy, which requires that they travel the vast majority of the distance in a state of hibernation. When the space craft crash lands on a planet, the surviving astronauts quickly discover that this particular planet is ruled by apes (and chimps and gorillas, but that title would have been a little unwieldy). The apes walk and talk like human beings, if not so technologically advanced, whereas the humans they come in contact with have no speech, and live like feral animals (or cavemen, they fashion clothes, so they obviously aren’t as primeval as apes are in our world).
Taylor astounds the apes by being able to speak, earning the affection of some, and the enmity of others. This leads to a rather disturbing interspecies (read interracial) kiss. In the end, Taylor discovers that he is not in fact on a different planet, but rather on the planet earth, centuries later.
Planet of the Apes is an absolute classic. It’s not necessarily as complex as some other films, and the cinematography is obviously dated, but for all that, it holds up well. It is probably one of the most referenced dystopian films, particularly if you consider how many times it has come up in The Simpsons. It’s a must watch.
Review Date: 2010-12-19
IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063442/