Planet of the Apes 1968 ★★★★½

Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!
-George Taylor

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 storyline. 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 naturaly 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.

7 Comments

  • *SPOILERS (even though everyone on the planet knows it..)

    The Statue of Liberty ending still holds up, I was fortunate enough to rewatch this!

  • It really does! Watching the special features after, something I never knew, but Pierre Boulle the writer of the original novel "La Planète des Singes" was dead set against that ending! He hated it and I think he wrote a letter pleading them to change their minds. He thought it would ruin the entire film.

  • You hit the nail on the head here. I screen this in my Film Criticism class as an example of science fiction/films with social commentary; I love all the layers.

  • I hadn't watched this in quite a number of years and vaguely remembered it made a statement on religion coexisting with science. I guess with a few more years under my belt now I'm still able to appreciate the sci-fi camp while noticing the various layers of social commentary whether it was intentional or just a sign of the times.

  • It's political and allegorical! Religion (or tradition) versus science (or progress), racism, xenophobia, militarism...but you're right: I don't know if it's there intenitionally or just there because we are able to see it. Regardless, POTA is one of the best sci-fi films ever.

  • Love the POTA films! Except... well... I don't have much love for the Burton one :-(

  • Love this review! I just saw the film for the first time, and after hearing people go on and on about the makeup, I never found myself even thinking about it. I was totally sucked in thanks to the actors' voices and eyes.

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