The Planet of the Apes: An all time sci-fi great

09 March 2023
"The Planet of the Apes" is a groundbreaking science fiction film that revolutionized the genre and set a high bar for subsequent science fiction movies.

Released in 1968, the movie was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and starred Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, and Kim Hunter. The movie was based on the novel "La Planète des Singes" by Pierre Boulle.

The movie is set in a future where humans have traveled to space and landed on a planet inhabited by intelligent apes. The humans, led by Colonel George Taylor (Charlton Heston), are initially enslaved by the apes, but they eventually rise up against their captors. The movie tackles themes of oppression, slavery, and the limits of scientific progress.

"The Planet of the Apes" deals with several complex and interrelated themes that remain relevant to this day. 

Here are some of the most significant themes in the movie:

  1. Evolution and Scientific Progress: The movie also examines the relationship between evolution and scientific progress. The apes' intelligence is attributed to their evolutionary advancement, but it's the technological advancement of human society that allowed them to travel to another planet. This raises the question of whether human progress has made them more or less evolved.
  2. Identity and Belonging: The movie also explores the question of identity and belonging. The humans in the movie find themselves in an unfamiliar environment that challenges their perception of themselves and their place in the world. The apes view humans as inferior, which causes the humans to question their own value and identity.
  3. Prejudice and Discrimination: The movie also examines the theme of prejudice and discrimination. The apes' prejudice against humans is evident throughout the movie, as they view humans as a lower form of life. The movie shows how this type of prejudice can lead to dehumanization and violence.
  4. Environmentalism: The movie's ending, where the statue of liberty lies destroyed on the beach, serves as a warning about the dangers of environmental destruction. The message is clear that humans' arrogance and disregard for nature will ultimately lead to their destruction.

"Oh my God. I'm back. I'm home. All the time, it was... We finally really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"

planet of the apes twist ending

These lines are spoken after Colonel Taylor discovers the remains of the Statue of Liberty that rested in New York Harbour, revealing that he has been on Earth the whole time and that humanity has destroyed itself in a nuclear war.

This revelation completely changes the audience's perspective on the movie, and raises profound questions about the nature of humanity and the dangers of technological progress.

It is one of the great film twist endings, and arguably only The Empire Strikes Back was the only other sci-fi film to hit such a mark.

The bleak ending of the movie differs significantly from the ending of the book. In the book, the humans and apes coexist peacefully and the protagonist, Ulysse Mérou, eventually returns to Earth.

The twist in the movie was added by the screenwriters, Michael Wilson and Rod Serling, to make the movie more impactful and thought-provoking.

The impact of "The Planet of the Apes" on science fiction cannot be overstated. The movie paved the way for other groundbreaking science fiction movies, such as "Star Wars" and "Blade Runner". The themes and ideas presented in the movie continue to resonate with audiences today, making it a timeless classic of science fiction cinema.

Quotes from Planet of the Apes

Here are some of the classic quotes from "The Planet of the Apes," 

"Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!" - Colonel George Taylor (Charlton Heston)This line is spoken by Taylor when he is first captured by the apes and being taken into custody. It has become an iconic line in popular culture and is often referenced and parodied in other movies and media.

"It's a madhouse! A madhouse!" - Taylor (Heston)This line is spoken by Taylor when he witnesses the chaos and violence of the ape society. It expresses his disbelief and frustration at the insanity of the situation.

"A planet where apes evolved from men?" - Taylor (Heston)This line is spoken by Taylor when he first realizes the true nature of the world he has landed on. It reflects his shock and confusion at the idea of an inverted evolution.

"Do not underestimate the human race." - Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans)This line is spoken by Dr. Zaius, the orangutan leader of the ape society. It reveals his fear and distrust of humans and his belief that they are a threat to the apes' way of life.

"You know what they say, human see, human do." - Dr. Zira (Kim Hunter)This line is spoken by Dr. Zira, a chimpanzee scientist who is sympathetic to the humans. It reflects her observation of human behavior and her belief that humans have the capacity to learn and adapt.

"The Forbidden Zone was once a paradise. Your breed made a desert of it, ages ago." - Cornelius (Roddy McDowall)This line is spoken by Cornelius, a chimpanzee archaeologist, to Taylor. It reveals the history of human destruction of the planet and serves as a warning of the consequences of unchecked human actions.

These quotes have become iconic and reflect the movie's exploration of themes such as oppression, evolution, identity, prejudice, and environmentalism.

Here are some trivia and production insights about "The Planet of the Apes":

  • The iconic ape makeup was designed by John Chambers, who won an honorary Academy Award for his work on the film. The makeup took hours to apply and was so convincing that some of the actors were mistaken for real apes by zookeepers.
  • Charlton Heston initially resisted taking the role of Colonel Taylor, but was convinced by the script's exploration of themes such as social commentary and the dangers of nuclear war.
  • The film's budget was initially only $5.8 million, but due to production problems and delays, it ended up costing around $8 million.
  • The final scene of the film, where Colonel Taylor discovers the remains of the Statue of Liberty, was originally going to be shot on location in Arizona. However, due to budget constraints, the scene was instead filmed on the beach at Malibu, California, with the statue's head and torch added later using special effects.
  • Roddy McDowall, who played the role of Cornelius, had to endure several hours of makeup and prosthetics each day. However, he enjoyed the process and even kept a photo album of his transformation.
  • The film's score, composed by Jerry Goldsmith, featured several unusual instruments such as the Ondes Martenot and the serpent, which gave it a unique and otherworldly quality.
  • The film's success spawned several sequels, as well as a TV series, an animated series, and a recent reboot film franchise which was hugely successful.
  • The film's themes of social commentary and political satire have been cited as influencing other sci-fi films such as "Star Trek" and "Star Wars."
  • The film's success led to a merchandising bonanza, with toys, costumes, and other merchandise featuring the iconic ape characters.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
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