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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
NB: As is their wont, Amazon have confusingly lumped the reviews for the first Planet of the Apes film and the boxed set of the first films in the series together. this review refers to the Blu-ray for the first film only.

Crashlanding on an unidentified planet on 25th November 3978 earthtime, the three surviving astronauts find themselves on a planet where evolution has been reversed and apes are the dominant species.

The same premise may have been used for the first two sequels and the TV series but here it carries an intellectual and philosophical weight leavened by both a sense of humour and its vivid action. Unlike the immediate sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, it deals credibly with Heston's atronaut's disorientation in a manner that enhances our involvement both the character and the film. His deeply cynical character, whose disgust with mankind led to his decision to flee it in the hope that "somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than man - has to be", is forced into the position of its unlikely defender.

The direction is at once both highly disciplined and rough and ready, its mix-and-match of camera techniques giving a sense of a world both unbalanced and repressively logical that makes his plight entirely involving. It builds to the first appearance of the apes with a highly credible opening half-hour that sees the astronauts foraging across an incredibly stark and alien landscape. When it does come in the powerful hunt sequence, it is still a stunner, as indeed is the knockout final shot that easily beats novelist Pierre Boulle's original ending (the astronaut returns to Earth to find apes have taken over there too).

Even with modern advances in film make-up, there has never been anything to touch the extraordinary work on the apes films. Designed both for credibility and emotional effect, there is a level of detail and character that is quite astounding, and most important of all, they are never less than totally convincing. You always believe that these are talking apes, not men in masks. The actors too deserve special praise for this, their body language giving them simian attributes without descending to parody, their vocal ability injecting them with a gravitas and personality that is genuinely involving. After a while you stop thinking of them as apes but as characters and share Taylor's anger and frustration at them.

It is particularly interesting in the context of the film that one of the astronauts is black (something NASA took its time getting round to), and clear traces of the civil rights era can be found in the script. There is racism within the ape society, with chimpanzees looked down on by an orangutan elite in a society where a species 'quoata' system has only recently been abolished. The elite fears the presence of a talking human who could destroy the status quo in an era of social upheaval. Similarly, the Scopes Monkey trial of 1925 which put Darwinism in the dock is evoked in the tribunal sequence, as are the shameful anti-communist showtrials of fifties America.

Indeed, it is easy to see a disgust with McCarthyism running through the film, both on-screen and behind the cameras. Co-writer Rod Serling had attacked the paranoia of the era in the Twilight Zone episode The Monsters are Due on Maple Street, as had director Schaffner in The Best Man, and co-writer Michael Wilson was denied his screen credit on Lawrence of Arabia both by the blacklist and director David Lean. Kim Hunter was also blacklisted as a result of an Oscar winning director's testimony.

The production design is also excellent, the simian city so perfectly realised that it is surprising to learn that Rod Serling originally envisioned a (undoubtedly economically unviable) sixties-style metropolis of skyscrapers and machinery modified for the dimensions of apes. Goldsmith's score is a landmark, evoking an alien soundscape every bit as vivid as its visual equivalent through its use of bizarre instrumentation, echoing the chattering of apes in its orchestration.

On the debit side there are some terrible bits of monkey business - the orangutan jury adopting the poses of the three blind monkies, lines like "I never met an ape I didn't like" and "Human see, human do" - as well as one VERY unfortunate shot at the pool when two of the naked astronauts disappear below the frame while Heston remains (briefly) standing. Yet these are not enough to detract from what is still one of the greatest science fiction films ever made.

While the sequels are only readily available to British Blu-ray buyers in a boxed set, the original film has been released on Blu-ray in Europe with almost all the extras intact from the excellent two-disc limited edition, most notable the excellent two-hour documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes (here presented in an interactive version) which gves a thorough overview of the original film franchise (it was made before tim Burton's 'reimagining' or the excellent Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)[Region Free]). There's also an audio commentary by Roddy McDowell, Natalie Trundy, Kim Hunter and John Chambers, isolated score with commentary by Jerry Goldsmith, a showreel produced for cinema owners to persuade them to book the film, original featurette, mute dailies and outtakes and full make-up test with Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson, James Brolin and Linda Harrison, Roddy McDowall home movies, stills, concept art and merchandise galleries, promo for Behind the Planet of the Apes, original trailer and teaser for Planet of the Apes and trivia track. Extras exclusive to the BD include 'Science of the Apes' bonusview featurettes, two new featurettes on the film and its merchandising, a text based interactive game and a mock public service announcement.

(For the record, the A Look Behind the Planet of the Apes featurette for Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and location footage of Don Taylor directing Escape From the Planet of the Apes and J. Lee Thompson directing Conquest of the Planet of the Apes can be found on the Blu-ray releases of the respective films).

The Blu-ray transfer itself is very good, though perhaps not such a giant leap from the two-disc special edition DVD to make an upgrade absolutely essential. But if you don't have the film and don't want the sequels, this is certainly the version to get. Do note, however, that the US Blu-ray is region A-locked (though it does include the original mono soundtrack that is dropped in favour of a stereo remix in the version released in the rest of the world).
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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
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2014
Hadn't seen this for a number of years so decided to give it a spin on amazon prime.

After all this time it still holds up as a quality slice of science fiction. The ever so slightly ropey special effects of the astronauts in space quickly gives way to the fantastic looking creepy landscape of the planet of the apes and its full steam ahead from there. The ape effects themselves are still ace as well. Yes they're guys in monkey suits but guys in monkey suits have rarely looked so good.

The ending has lost none of its power over the years, even when you know its coming it still takes your breath away. The sequels which followed had their ups and downs (Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and the recent Rise of the Planet of the Apes being my personal favourites).

This is where it all really began though. Classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 December 2014
The perfect gift for all movie buffs is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

The most remarkable thing here is that a 1960s film about talking apes still holds up almost 45 years later. Some people might scoff that the makeup isn't THAT good, but it IS good enough that the movie has no problem sucking you in and you no longer think about the actor under the makeup, you only see the characters on the screen.

What really makes this film work though is that it can be enjoyed on many different levels. You can turn your brain off and just enjoy it for it's campy fun obviously. You have humans treated like animals being hunted down by talking apes, what's not to like? You can enjoy it for it's creative sci-fi conspiracy story-line. Finally, you can enjoy it for it's multiple social statements on race, religion and social class.

If all that combined didn't already make one hell of a film, you throw in Charlton Heston as the leading man and you have a damn near masterpiece. For some reason Heston can take the lead in films filled with the extraordinary while seemingly right at home. It doesn't matter if he's leading the Jews out of Egypt or letting out the secret of Soylent Green, these kinds of situations all come naturally to Heston it seems. Talking apes? No problem.

Now with all that, how do you end a film like this? Well you end it with one of the most iconic moments in 1960s cinema. That's how.
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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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 17 July 2014
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2013
Smart slim line presentation pack containing all of the original planet of the apes films. Well worth a watch. My son who has only seen the remakes lives this box set
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
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.
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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.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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.
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