Planet of the Apes (1968)

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Cast: Charlton HestonRoddy McDowallKim Hunter 
Plot: An astronaut crew crash lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved.

Genre: Action/Drama/Sci-Fi

Awards: Won Honorary Oscar for Best Makeup. Nom. for 2 Oscars - Best Costume Design, Best Original Score. 
Runtime: 112min
Rating: PG for mild violence, language, and brief nudity.



Planet Of The Apes is a science-fiction adventure that doesn't need light saber battles, flying spacecrafts, or aliens to keep viewers entertained. In fact, there's nothing significantly sci-fi other than that it's set thousands of years into the future on an isolated planet.

Created by the writer who gave us The Bridge On The River Kwai, Planet Of The Apes is an exploration of the existence of intellectual beings other than Man. Why it's an eye-opener is because there's no other film (which I've seen) that directly shows the inferiority of Man over another species that we know. We have seen films that emphasize Nature's superiority over man in disaster flicks, but this is clearly something uniquely different.

Director Franklin J. Schaffner loves making films that pit Man against the harsh physical environment (e.g. the hostile jungle in Papillon, the hot battlefields in Patton). Now in Planet Of The Apes, we see barren, isolated landscapes similar (but not equaled) to Lawrence Of Arabia.

Cinematography-wise, it's as beautiful as it's stark. Moreover, famous composer Jerry Goldsmith's striking yet strange score helps to accentuate the primeval mood of the place. Charlton Heston's performance is a balanced mixture of boldness and vulnerability, though not as great as what he had achieved in Ben-Hur.

The most notable aspect of Planet Of The Apes is the costume design, and the makeup effects by John Chambers (who won an honorary Oscar for his pioneering work here). It's incredibly realistic, to the extent that the talking apes become humanistic, and have personalities attached to them, rather than just being shallow talking apes.

The chilling climax somewhat compensates for the average screenplay, and the plain script. There have been several sequels, and a remake by Tim Burton over the decades; but unfortunately they don't even work half as well as the original, becoming diluted and commercialized respectively. The mystery and thrill of the original still remains, and is undoubtedly one of the more fascinating films to grace the screens in the late 1960s.

GRADE: A- (8.5/10 or 4 stars)

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