Planet of the Apes. Dir. Franklin J. Schaffner. Twentieth Century Fox. 1968.
Planet of the Apes is a story that takes a look at what the world would be like if Apes filled the role of humans, and vice-versa. What the film manages to do is not only point out how humans perceive animals as wild, and something that should be locked up and studied, but also makes a point of how wild humans actually are, even without realising it. By making the films hero the only functioning human left on the planet, we can see how primitive humans are (the Apes in this case), by how they treat the human, and how that sparks an emotional response by the audience. Though the Apes are living in a civilised society, where marriage is present, and politics and science, they still have a wild streak about them when it comes to how they treat the primitive humans. Like the real world, there is something very archaic about how western society works, and this is what the film is highlighting. Though we would like to consider ourselves as civil, there is nothing humane about how animals are treated, just like George Taylor (Charlton Heston), when they are caged and poked at. What is different about the society in this film is that they find Taylor, who has the ability to act and think rationally, just like them. This is when we discover their more inhumane side, as they then subject Taylor to a court hearing where he only has Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) to defend him, and even then, whatever they say is overlooked due to the corruption within the government. The films comment on the worlds political system is severely scrutinised, as we witness through Dr. Zaius’ (Maurice Evans) tampering with the evidence that they find, like when Taylor cannot speak, due to injury, and writes a message in the sand, only to have Dr. Zaius erase it before anyone can see. He also has extreme influence over the decision of the President of the Assembly (James Whitmore), highlighting the fact that the government cannot be trusted. It is not until the end, when Taylor, Zira and Cornelius escape that we learn Dr. Zaius and the court were all along trying to cover up a history that could prove that people were once just as civilised as them, and maybe it was the Apes who were the primates, that they so heavily condemn. Again, drawing comparisons between the film and the real world, a focus is drawn upon the nature of human kind to supress anything that goes against their ideals, even it means punishing others who are innocent. The cave where they find the proof is later blown up, only for Taylor to run away and find the Statue of Liberty, destroyed, on the beach, realising that he isn’t in an alternate dimension, but merely the future of his own world, a world that let him down, and was torn apart by the same things that the Apes incur in their society, corruption and suspicion.