With “War for the Planet of the Apes” only days away, I thought it would be fun to look back at how it all started. That film is “Planet of the Apes” made in 1968 by director Franklin J. Schaffner and based on the book written by Pierre Boulle.
This film stars Charlton Heston as George Taylor, the lead astronaut on a crew that crash-lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved.
Let’s start with the positives, the story is very engaging and it is clear why an audience in 1968 was won over by this piece of science-fiction. The makeup is also very good for the year that it was done, the apes have different personalities and their looks match those personalities.
Heston is very good in this performance. He works silently through much of the film when he is captured, however his character is always engaging and is someone that the audience wants to root for.
Now some problems, 1968. Much of the filmmaking techniques that were used in that time have not aged well. Such as the off-screen shriek heard when we see one of the astronauts dead at the beginning of the film. Or the close zoom into the American flag with Heston laughing maniacally. Maybe they seemed like good ideas at the time, however watching them with clear eyes today, they seem cheesy.
If you haven’t seen the film or know the ending, then I don’t know why you are reading this so I’m just going to talk about the final scene which I believe Heston plays beautifully and is a cinematic masterpiece. However, it isn’t like this is the first time a film had a twist ending. Hell, “The Twilight Zone” was on television ten years prior to this film being made and they had plenty of twist endings.
The movie is a fun watch and it is well made. If you are wanting to start watching some classic movies, this is definitely one to start with because it is smart with its story approach. However, there are times its age shows and some of the film techniques are difficult to watch.
3 stars out of 5