Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie's plot.
I bought "Planet of the Apes" on a whim. The new version with Marky Mark Wahlberg is still three weeks away, and I felt a need to see the original. As an ardent sci-fi fan, I felt embarrassed that I hadn't seen a classic like this one. But it was one of those films that slipped through the crack until now. But luckily my fifteen bucks was worth it, because I got a great late '60s film that probably ranks in there with the top ten of all time.
The story centers around Earth astronaut Taylor, who leaves for a mission in a faster-than-light vessel to a star in the Orion system. But something goes wrong, and the ship crash lands in a lake on a strange and barren landscape. The three trek through rocky desert, coming to a jungle land inhabited by a caveman-like race of humans. Taylor and the others believe that they will be ruling these primitives in a week.
But someone's beat them to the punch. A massive garrison of apes on horseback round up as many of the cavemen using guns and nets, killing many. Taylor himself is shot in the throat. He is brought to a zoo-like facility, where he is befriended by an ape scientist named Zira, and her skeptical fiancee, Cornelius. They soon realize that there is more to Taylor than meets the eye, and they attempt to bring Taylor before the ape counsel. But the apes will not listen to reason, as their beliefs tell them that religion and science are one and the same. He must be a freak, a mutant of some sort.
So the ragtag team is forced to effect Taylor's escape, but they never fully convince the ape community that man has a past on the Planet of the Apes. And once Taylor is allowed to move on his own, he rides down the beach to one of the most memorable and surprising endings in motion picture history. Fox sort of gives away the ending with the very box of the film, so I'll just blow it now, if you don't mind. As Taylor gets slowly off the horse, his eyes fixated on a landmark half-buried in the sand, he falls to the ground and proclaims, "You actually did it! You blew it all up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!" And as we pull back, we see the scarred and blackened Statue of Liberty remain tall over the landscape.
It was Earth all along.
So what did I think? I loved it. I'll see the new version, just to gauge how faithful they are to this amazing film. It's definitely one of sci-fi's unsung classics, with a cutting edge premise that's relevant even today, and may continue to be for many times to come. Not only is this a scathing reminder of nuclear power gone awry, but it also fits in themes of tolerance and racism that were at the forefront of American culture at that time.
The film works on many layers, and is a wonderful piece of writing genius.
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Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 9 - 12