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.
A genuine genre classic whose impact remains undimmed either by time, increasingly dire sequels, or Tim Burton's lacklustre 2001 "reimagining", the original Planet of the Apes
richly deserves this 35th Anniversary special edition. Here you'll find a glorious anamorphic presentation of Franklin J Schaffner's painterly CinemaScope framing, accompanied by a new DTS 5.1 soundtrack that makes the movie seem even more vibrant and immediate than ever before. On disc one the film is accompanied by two audio commentaries: one from composer Jerry Goldsmith, and another with Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Natalie Trundy and make-up artist John Chambers. These are reasonably interesting, though with a few too many gaps. Better is Eric Greene's exhaustive text commentary. Better still are the features on the second disc.
Disc two contains the exhaustive two-hour Behind the Planet of the Apes documentary (also to be found in the six-disc box set) as well as a host of other behind-the-scenes nuggets for die-hard fans: dailies and outtakes, make-up tests and Roddy McDowall's home movies. There's some overlap between a 1967 NATO presentation of the movie hosted by Charlton Heston and other featurettes from 1968 and 1972. Sequel directors Don Taylor and J Lee Thompson are seen in action, and there are trailers, film reviews from 1968 and picture galleries. --Mark Walker
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