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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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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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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.
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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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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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on 14 June 2015
One of the most influential Science Fiction films of all time that has a marvelous story and iconic makeup effects yes it may be outdated now but for it's time it was breathtaking. The cast of the film are great yes even Charlton Heston is good which has Roddy McDowell and Maurice Evans that out act him. It has the classic by Jerry Goldsmith which probably was his breakthrough and this came out the same year as the another iconic sci-fi film Stanley Kubrick's 2001 a Space Odyssey which was less coherent in it's story but visual which also makes Planet Of The Apes a better film.
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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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OK, so if you’ve read Pierre Boulle’s classic Planet Des Singes, you’ll wonder whether the concept of the ending in the book wasn’t better than the end of the movie, despite its rather trite manuscript in a bottle format (even allowing for a bit of “Lost in Translation”). Interestingly, that ending had a closer parallel in the rather inferior recent movie of POTA.

Still, here we’re on familiar territory. The magnificent Charlton Heston in his “Man Alone” routine, and no less great for being a familiar part for this magnificent actor and fantastic specimen of manhood.

The ape make-up, in reality hardly bettered (or even equalled, the orangutans in the Tim Burton version just make me laugh) in the recent movie- apart from the fantastic Thade- still looks great and of course we get fine support acting throughout. This is an early movie entry in this genre and deserves to be considered in that light. The dawning realisation of where Taylor is (spoiler alert, though for goodness’ sake if you don’t know by now…., and I won’t bother again) is fantastic, the ending to die for (and beautifully spoofed in Madagascar, as well as the phenomenally funny Simpsons musical version). Taylor’s final speech, and his knowing that he’s the only human who knows-how great is that?

Amongst Sci Fi movies this is one of perhaps few genuine classics. It has a great concept, good production values (though a bit corny in the ape “City”), thrilling sequences, fantastic settings and cinematography, and more than a few surprises. Yes, it has weaknesses when looked at afresh today because of the time it was made. But it is still a great movie, noticeably better than the very earnest attempts to reboot the series we’ve seen recently.

Five stars, because more are not permitted.
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on 23 April 2004
With all the hoo-ha surrounding the eventual DVD release of Lucas’original trilogy, it’s easy to forget that there was a sci-fi saga of epicproportions before Star Wars. It’s also fairly surprising to realise thatdirector Franklin J. Schaffner’s Planet of the Apes is 35-years-old. Longbefore it’s sequels descended into outright farce and before the usuallyfail-proof Tim Burton mauled the concept with his dire ‘re-imagining’,this was undoubtedly the movie that made people take the geeks favouritegenre seriously. With subtle political swiping at the Vietnam war,commentary on class, race and gender, Planet of the Apes was a cut abovethe rest. Charlton Heston exudes leading man charisma, but tinged with asense of despair. Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall shine from beneath layersof latex monkey. And the fantastically fatalistic finale still rates asthe most shocking cinematic climax of all time. With all the usualcommentaries, the only thing that lets the second disc down is an in-depth‘making of’ feature that covers all five films. Surely it would make moresense to focus only on the original, otherwise it seems more sensible tobuy the complete box set?
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on 12 October 2015
Superb HD transfer - an obvious and very noticeable improvement over the DVD version, complemented by a very good selection of documentaries. The picture quality on the feature film is superb, with fine detail, natural film grain and steady, well-defined colours. The sound is well reproduced but mostly confined to the front channels, which is ok considering the original mix. The dialogue is delivered with precision and clarity.
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on 13 March 2012
Love it, love it, love it, I was so excited to receive this and it was all that I hoped it would be. I was younger when it was released and could not really appreciate it, second time around and I just watch it over again as I enjoy it in its full glory.
Captivating, a great original scifi ;must see', brought back great memories of my favourite lines,that I kept laughing about them all day' get your dirty hands of me ,you dam dirty ape'so powerful! excellent picture quality
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