Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ten Statements About....PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

Even though the two male figures here behave badly, neither
is the bad guy...which is the beauty of this film.
"My dreams aren't like yours. I can't help thinking that somewhere in the universe there must be something better than man. There has to be."

1) I had forgotten how many long stretches of this film go on without any of Jerry Goldsmith's exceptional score--and that's for the better. By using it only sparingly, at key moments, the score itself becomes something of a character, a greek chorus commenting on Taylor's plight.

2) Taylor a dickhead through most of this film...but then, I suspect he needed to be an extreme dickhead to make the signs that he does transform due to his experiences all the more obvious.

3) Maybe it's the strength of the actors involved, the expressiveness of the make-up effects or a combination of both, but after a while the ape make-up becomes more-or-less invisible after a little bit, and you accept the apes as characters and not people in suits.

There is a way to make someone put on a monkey
mask and make them real characters...
4) Perhaps the movie's best performance is given by Maurice Evans' Zaius. Unlike Tim Roth's Thade in Tim Burton's 2001 remake, you never get the sense that Zaius is an enemy. He shows something akin to respect toward Taylor after a bit even as he resists him, and you certainly get the sense that even if he finds some of the things he does or has done distasteful, he believes he is doing it for the good of his society.

5) Boy, do I love how director Franklin J. Schaffner gets around budgetary constraints--the way he depicts the space ship crash without the use of miniatures or opticals is masterful and amazing.

6) The only character who gets on my nerves is Lou Wagner's Lucius, who is obviously intended to be an character for 'the young kids' to identify with...and his counterculture spouting is cliched and heavy handed.

7) I guess because it's been quoted--and misquoted--so many times, I forgot how subtle the ending was, especially given that Schaffner has the courage to let the scene and the credits that follow play out only with ambient sound. The only thing that bugs me now about it is Heston's over-the-top punching of the final lines.

"We'll see how you like it when I throw poop at you!"
8) I know there are people who consider this funny and satirical...but, truth be told, I don't see it. I can certainly see its value as a political simile about prejudice, civil rights and the suppression of information, but--whether because of the way the script is written, or because of my viewing it some forty years out of time--I don't see the humor in much of it. Except when, like with the see-no-evil-etc. shot, the humor is over-the-top.

9) I do like the fact that ape society is certainly primitive and has echoes of other primitive societies--there are glimmers of the wild west and middle eastern cultures in there--but it's not one that reflects a certain era in human society one hundred percent.

10) For a film that's two hours long, and one I had an impression was slow going, it's actually very well paced. Even the longish sequences toward the end have purposes.

Overall...I'm surprised at how well I liked this (I have not watched this film for roughly three decades). It's much smarter than I remember; very well acted save for Heston, who never met a line he couldn't chew up and spit out; and does a really cool bit of world building. It makes me feel better about visiting the other four films in the original cycle in the coming days.

No comments:

Post a Comment