Movie Wednesday: Planet of the Apes
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Taylor, an astronaut explorer and his crew, depart the planet Earth in 1972. They awake from stasis to discover that they have crash landed on a strange planet in the year 3978. The astronauts learn that the planet is inhabited by primitive humans without the power of speech and is ruled instead by intelligent talking apes. Taylor is captured and brought to the ape city where he and his captors will have to face questions of what constitutes intelligent life and grapple with their beliefs and identities as Taylor’s mere presence throws the ape society into an uproar.
Before the big budget, CGI heavy reboot in 2011, Planet of the Apes was first brought to the big screen in 1968. Hailed for its cutting-edge makeup and prosthetics as well as its challenging and innovative story, this film is considered a classic in its genre and stars Charlton Heston as Taylor. The film was inspired by the early ‘60s novel by Pierre Boulle and launched a franchise which endures to this day.
With the next installment in the reboot set to release in July 2017, now is a great time to journey back to the cinema of the ‘60s and ‘70s and experience this widely popular and seminal film series from the beginning.
A note to parents: Although the original Planet of the Apes films are rated G and PG respectively, they were released prior to significant changes in how films are rated and their content is not comparable to modern day films of the same rating. Discretion is advised for younger viewing audiences and you may wish to look up the content of the films prior to viewing using a site such as Commonsense Media.
- The apes have a cast system segregating chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans into strict social roles. Why do you think this is? And do you think it’s a good system? Explain your answers.
- In the original film, apes treat humans as inferior life and therefore feel it’s acceptable to experiment and treat them poorly, similar to the way humans treat animals now. What do you think this says about our own society?
- If you found yourself on the planet of the apes, how do you think you would react? Would you make the same choices as Taylor or would you make different ones? Explain you answer.
A full length documentary detailing the production of all five original films is available with the DVD/Blu-Ray set.
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