9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I'm a seeker, too. But my dreams aren't like yours. I can't help thinking that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than man. Has to be.
Planet of the Apes is directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and adapted to screenplay by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling from the 1963 Pierre Boulle novel La planete des singes. It stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison. Music is scored by Jerry Goldsmith and Leon Shamroy is the cinematographer.
3978 A.D. and a spaceship and its crew crash down on a distant planet. Three astronauts survive the crash, they appear to be on a planet not unlike their own, Earth. But soon they come to learn that this planet is ruled by intelligent apes, the human being is the lesser species, mute and of basic intelligence.....
It was a tough sell to studios back in the 1960s, not only was the premise that formed Pierre Boulle's novel a tricky one, but the technical aspects, cost and quality of, also had the men in suits backing away from producer Arthur P. Jacobs and beefcake actor Charlton Heston. Eventually Dick Zanuck over at Fox nervously agreed to make it as long as significant tests ensured that farce would not follow. Stumping up $50,000 for John Chambers to develop the ape make up and masks, and a successful test run acted out by Edward G. Robinson as Dr Zaius opposite Heston, Planet of the Apes was given the green light. The script went through a number of changes as Serling and Wilson tossed around ideas to improve on Boulle's page turner-Heston himself felt that the novel as written was unfilmable-and when director Schaffner came on board, he himself went for a more primitive ape world as opposed to the one under consideration that featured futuristic high rises and super advanced technology. What came out at the end of it all is one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time.
What would follow the success of the film is well known, a number of inferior sequels, a TV series, a remake and even a prequel in 2011. Then of course there was the toys, models, comics, cartoons and T shirts; it at times felt in the 70s that there really was a Planet of the Apes, only this one was driven by commerce. The aftermath of the original film has not done it any favours, the lines have become blurred, with so much muck and tack about, it often gets forgotten just how clinically great Schaffner's movie is. If ever there was a film that deserves to be a standalone, this is the one. Follow Heston's brawny Taylor from the pitiful planting of the stars and stripes at the beginning, to that monumental ending, and then leave it at that, do not pass go, do not venture further into any sort of monkey business. No sequel necessary, for Planet of the Apes to truly hit you with maximum impact, it all needs to end right there on that shoreline. As the great Rod Serling intended, in fact.
Thematically the picture is acknowledged as being caustically strong, a sociological allegory, with pinches of racial animus just for flavouring. It might be under the guise of a sci-fi movie, but the makers aren't trying to hide it. Whilst the narrative twitches with comment, whoosh was that an aside to the Scopes trial? Film is also full of visceral thrills, pop-culture references and unnerving (alienation like) photographic beauty. The former comes with the hunt sequence, where we first meet gorilla's on horses, with guns and attitude, the latter with Shamroy's Panavision/De Luxe colour lensing of the California and Arizona locations. All enhanced by Goldsmith's aural pinging percussive led score. And while we continue to remember some of those famous bits of dialogue, we also pick up on each revisit to the film those little slices of humour slotted into the story; human see, human do, indeed.
Film of course hinges on Heston's central human performance, of which he delivers athletic guts and subtle nuances in equal measure. Taylor's character arc demands repeat viewings to fully appreciate what Heston brings to the role. Take in the cynical Taylor who wanders through the Forbidden Zone in the first quarter, then marry it up to the Taylor fighting for his life in the middle, and finally to the Taylor at the denouement, it's a three pronged acting turn of some undervalued distinction. Not all muscular "presence" actors are/were able to be credible, Heston was. Around him in the monkey suits are true professionals, Hunter, McDowall, Evans (coming in for Robinson who feared for is health in the suit) and Whitmore, while Harrison in the non speaking human role of Nova does her job of looking gorgeous! All that's left to say is that Schaffner, who would win the Academy Award for Best Director two years later for Patton, pulls it all together neatly. 10/10
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2001
Don't be put off by Burton's dire 're-imagining' - this is a top quality film. It's worth buying for the crash sequence and the shots of the stranded ship in the lake alone - stunning.
Charlton Heston hams it all up superbly, and the film as a whole just succeeds on so many levels. The melodramatic scripting adds to the experience if you don't take it too seriously, and the whole thing adds up to a fantastic film, which is superior to any of the sequels and remakes, although it is rather overshadowed by the glorious Simpsons musical version, 'Stop the Planet of the Apes, I want to get off!'.
Unfortunately the DVD has virtually no extras, but the beautiful widescreen print is so worth your money.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I can't believe there is anyone left on the planet who doesn't know the plot here, but just in case, there are spoilers here, proceed at your own risk...
I vividly remember watching this for the first time, when I must have been about 11 or 12. I was lucky enough to know nothing whatsoever up front about the film other than it involved some intelligent apes, and that is really the way to see it. I haven't watched it for a very long time now, and I don't remember much fine detail of the film - apart of course from the end sequence where Heston stumbles upon the remains of the statue, and realises for the first time where he really is. If you were watching in total ignorance as I was, and were able to share that moment with him - well, it is one of the most chilling earth-shattering cinematic standout moments you will ever experience. I did, and it remains etched in my memory to this day. I feel lucky to have been able to experience that moment as it was originally intended, and also sad that nobody now can do so in quite the same way.
If by some remote chance you don't know the story and you buy this, all I can say is whoever sanctioned putting that picture on the cover needs firing, because it's already ruined for you.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2004
This 2 disc anniversary release is a suitable celebration of a groundbreaking sci-fi franchise and contains a host of extras - from the interesting ....see the numerous featurettes,to the unusual (Roddy Mcdowell/Galen's home movies!), to the proverbial... commentary,making of and theatrical trailer etc.Not to be forgotten is the fantastic quality of the film itself! A must buy for all "Planet Of The Apes" fans.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2011
I saw this movie at the cinema when it was first released in the UK and found the film stunning. Now that it's on BD, and not having the DVD, I thought I'd have another look, even though I knew the surprises in the story.
This is a quality movie, not just the dramatic quality, but the film locations too. It is a believable story and the special effects are not overdone, infact they are magnificently subtle, some of the most convincing makeup I've seen. Projected on a 9-ft screen in full HD reveals no flaws and the sound is fine. I recommend this milestone in Sc-Fi cinematography to everyone. There are no silly lazer guns and impossible visual effects, so even those who are not avid Sc-Fi fans would find this movie absorbing and well worth the money. It's one I will watch more than once.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 2004
With its excellent performances and tight, smart script written by Rod Serling and Michael Wilson (based on the book by Pierre Boulle), this is a film that stays fresh and interesting even with repeated viewings. Released the same year as "2001: A Space Odyssey", both films are at the top of my "super sci-fi" list, and stack up against the best of what has been released in recent years, which relies more than ever on special effects to tell the story; the effects in "Planet of the Apes" are minimal, and it's the latex make-up that is the marvel, and garnered John Chambers a Special Award at the Oscars for his work, which allows the ape characters full freedom of facial expressions. Oscar nominations went for costume design, and the marvelous score by Jerry Goldsmith.
The cinematography by Leon Shamroy is also fantastic, and I love the aerial descent that starts the film.
Charlton Heston as the astronaut who lands in an "upside down world", and Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall as free thinking scientists are superb, and in smaller roles, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore and James Daly terrific as authority figures in the ape colony.
This film had four sequels, a TV series and a cartoon series, as well as a multitude of merchandise from plastic figurines to bubble gum cards, but the original stays pristine and untarnished by its often silly spin-offs, and is a one-of-a-kind classic.
What this film has, that one can appreciate even when one knows what it is, is that rare thing...a great ending. Very few films leave one with a satisfied feeling at their close, but this one is unique, brilliantly filmed, and like a perfect dessert after a good meal.
Total running time is 112 minutes.