This 1968 science fiction movie is considered to be one of the top movies of all times and with good reason. Technically speaking, this movie was a landmark in the history of film making. Arthur Jacobs, who produced the movie created an alternate world and civilization which was not only believable and but within Hollywood budgets. The movie was the “Avatar” of its time. It may not have had the glitz and glamour of today’s 3D technology, but remember it was 1968, and the release of Star Wars, mother of all sci-fi movies, was still a decade away.
The main achievement of the movie was in the area of prosthetics makeup. This make up technique would lay the foundation for generations of movies to come including Star Wars and LOTR. The movie won an Academy Award for its outstanding make up.
Comparing it with the current generation space age movies, the cinematography of the movie was highly “localized”. We were not treated to shots massive space ships or inter galactic flight scenes. Most of the terrain shooting appeared to be done in North American national parks. I later verified and found that these scenes were indeed shot in Utah and Arizona. The movie also had plenty ‘indoor” scenes which in today’s world would appear to be very low-budget studio sets.
However, Planet of the Apes is as much a movie about philosophy as it is about action packed space drama. The plot in brief, is that a spaceship with 3 men lands on an unknown planet which seems to inhabited by a backward human race. On this planet, the apes have however, evolved to be the more intelligent race and rule the planet and treat the humans exactly the way, well, the way animals were treated on earth. Trust me, the irony is not lost on anyone.
Out of the 3 men, only the captain survives a raid by the apes and is imprisoned. As being the only man capable of communication, he becomes subject of intense scrutiny, threat and fear. The movie throws several lights on the evolution of civilization, government and religion and even though our empathies are instantly tied to the human, it makes us question our structures and logic. The movie is incredible relevant even today. The satire on the self-destruction of human race is inescapable and the ending just reinforces the message.
Everyone must watch this movie.