'Getting Angry at Stupid People is like cursing the Grass for Growing.'
Greatest Written Films
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Planet of the Apes? You gotta be freaking kidding! A good action piece.. sure.. even a great sci-fi film but a Best Written Film?Are you insane man?
Alright, I hear what your saying. But give me a chance here.
Sure you can raise your eyebrows at a film that is predominately known for its make-up (for which it won a special Oscar) and sci-fi themes, rather than being a great screenplay. Yet the origin of this film lies in its period, an era when foreigners were evil and black people 'beneath us' and communists were lurking to take over the world.
Pierre Boulle wrote the novel Monkey Planet in 1963. When Hollywood bought the options, the screenplay was written by the legendary Rod Serling, the man behind The Twilight Zone. His changes made it a significantly better story but the core principles remained the same. The unknown breeds fear and fear is the parent to intolerance. It's still a pertinent message.
Apart from working as a tense and exciting thriller, Planet of the Apes reveals our darkest fears, that of the subjugated overthrowing us, where we become the racially oppressed. Our hold on this world is tenacious. Suddenly we are not listened to, nor matter. The shoe is much more uncomfortable on the other foot. You could argue that it's xenophobic in nature, but people only see what they want to see. The core design was simply, 'see how you'd like it.' The injustice should have you seething.
In the 1960's the message needed to be sent. America (& the world) still suffered from widespread intolerance; the Watts Riots of '65, the 'growing plague' of communism from South-East Asia and the year this film was released, 1968, with the assassination of Martin Luther King.
As far as the film itself went, Producer Arthur P. Jacobs had to fight for it. Special screen and make-up tests were done to prove to the studios that it could actually be made. Thankfully they agreed to go ahead.
Planet of the Apes still holds up today, easily overshadowing Tim Burton's terrible 2001 remake. There were four sequels to the original, only one of which had any merit (Escape from the Planet of the Apes) and two short-lived TV spinoff's. Apes was hugely popular and made a star out of its prime chimp, Roddy McDowell.
And it's not over. A prequel Rise of the Apes is planned for release in 2011, though to me, it seems that this story was already covered in the many sequels. If it's anything like the current crop of remakes and sequels, it will probably suck.
I particularly like the court scene where those in power did not want to know the truth. (carefully analyse the picture below). Has anything really changed at all?
More Poetry and Stories about Fuck All and Everything.