Planet of the Apes (1968 movie)

From Academic Kids

Planet of the Apes is a 1968 science fiction film in which an astronaut finds himself 2,000+ years in the future stranded on an earth-like planet, in which humans are enslaved by apes. The film is based on the novel by Pierre Boulle.



Plot details

Astronauts Taylor, Landon and Dodge are in deep hibernation when their spaceship crash lands in a lake on a planet in 3978 A.D. They awaken to find a fourth astronaut has died in space and their ship has started to sink. They manage to escape in an inflatable boat and reach shore. After wandering around in mountainous terrain, they descend to a valley where they stumble across a group of people being chased by gorillas on horseback. One of the astronauts is shot and killed during the chase while Taylor and Landon are captured; Taylor is shot in the throat, an injury that prevents him from initially talking to the apes. The captives are taken back to an ape city where Taylor is thrown into a cage with another captive, the beautiful Nova.

Taylor discovers that the apes, who can talk, are in control and use humans, who cannot talk, as slaves or for scientific experimentation. The apes are divided: the warriors are gorilla-like, the politicians orangutan-like and the scientists chimpanzee-like. This latter fact is illustrated when Taylor eventually finds Landon, who has been lobotomized after revealing his talking ability.

Cornelius and Zira are scientists who take an interest in Taylor because of his lip movements that resemble talking. In one scene, Taylor attempts to write on the dirt to call Cornelius and Zira's attention, but he become frustrated when they do not notice them. Dr. Zaius sees some letters on the dirt and realizes Taylor possesses verbal intelligence. Taylor's voice eventually heals sufficiently that he can talk to Cornelius and Zira, who take a liking to him. The political leader, Dr. Zaius, soon discovers Taylor's ability to talk and puts him on trial. But Taylor and Nova manages to escape with the aid of Cornelius and Zira. They flee to the "Forbidden Zone", where they discover 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 just disappears. But even his experience doesn't give Taylor the "why" on how apes became intelligent, talking creatures and humans the slaves (a question we eventually would find the answer to throughout the film series). But soon after his escape, Taylor discovers the Statue of Liberty half buried in the sand of a beach. He realizes that he's really back on Earth (albeit in the future) and that mankind has finally decimated civilization by a nuclear war.

Credits and awards

The movie was adapted by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling from the novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner.

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 Music, 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 idea of an "evolutionary ladder" with humans at the top. The ape's religious texts have a strong resemblance to the prose used in the King James Version of the Bible.

Human arrogance and self-assurance is also attacked by the Babel-like nuclear war, where humans are brought low (and rendered dumb) by their own science.

The humans cannot talk and are made to work by the apes. This is similar to the relation of yahoos and Houyhnhnms in Gulliver's Travels.


Planet of the Apes was followed by four sequels:

and two television series:

The movie was remade in 2001 - see Planet of the Apes.

Modifications from the novel

There have been modifications from the original French novel:

  • The hero is not a French called Ulysse Mérou anymore, but an American called Taylor.
  • The apes speak perfect English, while they spoke a wholly different alien language in the book. Ulysse has to learn it to get acquainted, while in the movie, Taylor has a throat wound which prevents him from speaking at first.
  • The Planet of the Apes is indeed Earth, although in the original novel it is a different planet that is very similar.
  • The humans wear primitive clothing although they were naked in the novel.
  • The technology and general settings of the apes' towns are more primitive compared to the original descriptions by Pierre Boulle.

Famous quotes

"Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"
"You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! God damn you all to hell!"
Taylor: "Doctor, I'd like to kiss you goodbye." Zira: "Well, all right ... but you're so damn ugly!"
"You chopped up his brain, you bloody baboon!"


In The Simpsons episode "Deep Space Homer" Homer is chosen to be an astronaut and in a press interview, is asked about the dangers of space. He replies that "The only danger is if they send us to that terrible Planet of the Apes". He then remembers the film's ending and breaks down like Taylor.

Another episode of The Simpsons features The Planet of the Apes: The Musical with the big number, Dr. Zaius.

External link

fr:La Planète des singes (1968) it:Il pianeta delle scimmie (film 1968)


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