Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Planet of the Apes" a genre defining piece of history

BASIC INFO:
TITLE: "Planet of the Apes"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1968
DIRECTOR: Franklin J. Schaffner
STARS: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter
EDITOR: Hugh S. Fowler
AWARDS: Honorary Oscar for outstanding make-up achievement
BOX OFFICE: $32,600,000 (US)
RUN TIME: 112 min.
RATING: N/A
VIEWING FORMAT: DVD

SUMMARY:
Taylor (played, iconically, by Charlton Heston), is an astronaut from 1970's Earth who crash lands on a distant planet in the distant future. After an encounter with humans who behave like animals, he is caught, and his throat injured, by a group of intelligent ape hunters. With his power of speech gone, and his place in society turned upside down, what will Taylor do, and how will he survive on the "Planet of the Apes?"

WHY THIS IS THE FILM OF THE WEEK:
"Planet of the Apes" is largely considered one of the best films to have ever been made. Cinephiles and critics alike have enjoyed this classic tale over and over again for decades. The film went on to launch four sequels, two television shows, a remake, and a reboot. Its place in film history has been cemented by it's incredible story, the first draft of which was written by Rod Serling, of "Twilight Zone" fame.

Director Franklin J. Schaffner, came on to the project at the request of Charlton Heston. One of his most significant contributions to the film was to set the ape society as a primitive one, instead of the much more expensive idea of having it be a futuristic society with skyscrapers and more advanced technology. This lead into the story-lines of the many sequels, tv shows, comic books, and the remake and reboots that followed the original. A franchise was born, and a financially successful one at that.

The story is a classic, and the ending will forever be regarded as one of the best twists in cinematic history. Some of recent generations say it is obvious, especially knowing that Serling, famous for his twists, wrote it. The critics of the time, and the ones to come, have all stood behind it, with audiences wanting more and more. 32 million dollars was a lot of money in the 1960's!

CRITIQUE:
This is the first perfect score film this writer has reviewed on this blog. Here are the reasons why.

The make up is incredible. It is stand out. It is beautiful. These apes represent an amazing technological advance in make up art within cinema. Actors had to spend up to four hours every day being made up before they could be filmed, and yet they gave some career high performances.

The most incredible part of this film is the story. It differs very much from the source novel, "La planet des singes" by Pierre Boulle, and offers a striking satire of class struggle, and racial tension that audiences in the 1960's may not have been ready for, and audiences since have appreciated. The final moments, after the climactic discoveries on the beach by Taylor and his ape counterparts, will never be forgotten by any viewer.

The cinematography, sound design, and score all add to this incredibly successful (both artistically and financially) film. This writer awarded this film a 10 out of 10 score. That means that everyone should see this film. It is significant, exciting, exhilarating, and incredibly entertaining on every level. Both the casual movie watcher and the hardened cinephile will enjoy this classic.

Also, go see the incredible sequel/reboot "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (2011) this weekend! It follows in the footsteps set by its predecessor, and gives the audience and emotionally charged action thriller. The effects are stand out, and the story pulls no cheap tricks. It is exactly what a summer blockbuster should be. Go out and support quality filmmaking!

MY IMDb RATING:  10 out of 10

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