A group of astronauts, led by George Taylor (Charlton Heston), crash land on a strange planet where mute humans are treated as slaves by intelligent apes. Taylor is hunted down and captured by horse-riding gorillas, and then taken for experimentation by sympathetic chimpanzee Dr Zira (Kim Hunter). When Zira discovers Taylor's intelligence, she and her fiancé Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) appeal to the governing council on his behalf, but the appeal fails, leaving the astronaut no choice but to go on the run. Fleeing for his freedom, Taylor soon makes a shocking discovery about the provenance of this strange planet.
The original Planet of the Apes
is that rarity of the genre: a science fiction film that has dated not one bit: its intelligent script, frightening costuming, and savagely effective conclusion (which needs no big-budget special effects to augment its impact) remain both potent and relevant. When Colonel George Taylor (the fabulous Charlton Heston) crash lands his spacecraft on what seems to be an unfamiliar planet, he is captured and held prisoner by a dominant race of rational, articulate apes. However, the ape community is riven with internal dissension, centred in no small part on its policy toward humans, who, on this planet, are treated as mindless animals. Befriended and ultimately assisted by the more liberal simians, Taylor escapes--only to find a more terrifying obstacle confronting his return home. Heavy-handed object lessons abound--the ubiquity of generational warfare, the inflexibility of dogma, the cruelty of prejudice--and the didactic finger prints of The Twilight Zone
's Rod Serling are very much in evidence here. But director Franklin Schaffner has a dark, pop-apocalyptic sci-fi vision all of his own, helped along by Jerry Goldsmith's terrifyingly avant-garde score. And time has not dulled the monumental emotional imp act of the film's climactic payoff shot. --Miles Bethany, Amazon.com
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