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Updated: May 29, 2023

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner Produced by Mort Abraham Arthur P. Jacobs Written by Pierre Boulle (novel) Michael Wilson (screenplay) Rod Serling (screenplay) Starring Charlton Heston Roddy McDowall Kim Hunter Maurice Evans James Whitmore James Daly Linda Harrison Distributed by 20th Century Fox Release date April 6, 1968 (USA) Running time 112 min. Language English Budget $2,000,000

Planet of the Apes is a 1968 science fiction film in which an astronaut finds himself more than 2,000 years in the future stranded on an Earth-like planet, in which apes are the dominant form of life and humans are only animals. The film is based on the novel by Pierre Boulle.

Astronauts Taylor, Landon and Dodge are in deep hibernation when their spaceship crash lands in a lake on an unknown planet in 3978 A.D. They awaken to find a fourth astronaut, Stewart, has died in space and their ship has started to sink. They use the inflatable raft from the ship to safely reach shore. Once on shore, Dodge performs a soil test and pronounces the soil incapable of sustaining life. The three astronauts set off through the desert, finding first a single plant and then others. They find an oasis at the edge of the desert where they decide to take a swim. While swimming, their clothes are stolen by unknowns. Pursuing the unknowns, the astronauts find that humans, who are apparently mute, had stolen their clothes. But shortly, the astronauts and other humans are being pursued by gorillas on horseback, hunting the humans for sport and capture. Dodge is shot and killed during the pursuit while Taylor and Landon are captured; Taylor is shot in the throat, an injury that prevents him from talking to the apes for some time. The captives are taken back to Ape City, where Taylor is thrown into a cage with a woman who was captured on the same hunt, the beautiful Nova.

Taylor discovers that the apes, who can talk, are the dominant species on this world.Taylor discovers that the apes, who can talk, are in control and are divided into three classes: gorilla police and military, orangutan administrators and politicians, and chimpanzee intellectuals and workers. Humans, who cannot talk, are wild animals, hunted or used for scientific experimentation. This latter fact is illustrated when Taylor eventually finds Landon, who has been lobotomized. Taylor had already found Dodge in a museum, stuffed as an exhibit (as Dodge is of African descent, and dark-skinned, he is an anomaly in a world of Caucasian light-skinned humans. Therefore, the apes put him on display).

Cornelius and Zira are scientists who take an interest in Taylor because of his lip movements that resemble talking. In one scene, Taylor writes in the dirt and attempts to call Cornelius and Zira's attention to it, but he becomes frustrated when they do not notice the writing. Dr. Zaius sees some letters on the dirt and realizes that Taylor possesses intelligence. Taylor's voice eventually heals sufficiently that he can talk to Cornelius and Zira, who take a liking to him.

Taylor and Zaius at the "monkey trial"The political leader, Dr. Zaius, soon discovers Taylor's ability to talk and puts him on trial when he tries to escape. But Cornelius and Zira execute a plan (with the help of Zira's nephew) to free Taylor, who insists that Nova also be brought along. They flee to the Forbidden Zone, where Cornelius (an archeologist) had, a year earlier, discovered a cave with artifacts of human technology. Zaius and a band of gorillas manage to find them and after a brief battle, Taylor and Nova are allowed to escape on horseback. Zaius lets them go without further confrontation as he thinks it best for everyone if Taylor and Nova both just disappear. But his experiences so far still do not give Taylor the "why" on how apes became intelligent, talking creatures and humans the wild animals. Soon after his escape, however, in probably the best known scene from the film, Taylor discovers the Statue of Liberty half buried in the sand on a beach. He realizes that he's really back on Earth (albeit in the far distant future) and that mankind has finally destroyed civilization in a nuclear war.

Taylor learns what planet he is on.This scene frequently makes 'best moments in film' and 'best endings' lists. In its few seconds length, it turns the viewer's whole concept of the film completely on its head (it is only retrospectively that the many clues throughout the film as to how it shall end become apparent). Taylor's ego and arrogance are shattered in a second as he comes across the ruined Statue of Liberty, the signal that his race - which up to that point he had always assumed superior to the apes - had managed to destroy its own planet.

It won an honorary Academy Award for John Chambers for his outstanding make-up achievement. It was nominated for Best Costume Design (Morton Haack) and Best Original Score for a Motion Picture (not a Musical).

In 2001 the United States Library of Congress deemed the original film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

The film uses the depiction of ape society to attack notions of human superiority. In particular, the apes' prejudice against humans, based on religion, can be seen as an attack both on creationism (Taylor's trial bearing some resemblance to the real-life Scopes Monkey Trial, and the apes' religious texts to the King James Version of the Bible) and on the idea of an "evolutionary ladder" with humans at the top. This reaches its dramatic climax near the end of the movie when Cornelius reads directly from the Sacred Scrolls at the now-captured Dr. Zaius' request:

Beware the beast man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him! For he is the harbinger of death.

The story of the Tower of Babel is reflected in the nuclear war that, the movie implies, abases the human population and elevates the apes " human arrogance and self-assurance cause the humans' downfall (attributes that - as the viewer retrospectively realises after watching the film - Taylor displays himself throughout the story).

The contrast between the mute and primitive humans and the cultured apes echoes the relationship between the Yahoos and the Houyhnhnms in Gulliver's Travels. Both the apes and Swift's Houyhnhnms possess reason and speech, and use those capabilities to oppress a more primitive humanoid population; both works satirize human-centric biases by having the speaking creatures commit "reasonable" acts which the audience can perceive as blatantly immoral (the apes' lobotomizing of Landon, the Houyhnhnms' hunting of Yahoos).

Planet of the Apes was followed by four sequels: Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) and two television series: Planet of the Apes (1974) Return to the Planet of the Apes (animated) (1975) The movie was 'reimagined' in 2001

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