|Vintage Pulp||May 3 2009|
Inspired by French author Pierre Boulle’s novel, Planet of the Apes is one of those films many can quote, but surprisingly few have seen. The premise—a group of astronauts crash land on a distant planet where apes are ascendant and humans are jungle-dwelling primitives—sounds like one-note cinema, but Planet of the Apes is an ambitious film that comments pointedly upon religion, nuclear proliferation, and the arrogance of man. Most know Charlton Heston as either a Biblical hero or a gun advocate, but in his day he was capable of creating compelling moments on film that didn’t involve the Old Testament or Michael Moore. Not that he was a master of his craft—but certain roles seemed almost constructed for him. In Planet of the Apes, Heston’s astronaut George Taylor is calculating, physical and, most importantly, stubborn. That stubbornness drives him toward a hard won freedom, but also prevents him from truly understanding cryptic warnings about what he’ll find in the Forbidden Zone. What follows is one of filmdom’s great shock endings. Planet of the Apes premiered in West Germany today in 1968 as Planet der Affen. As a bonus we’ve included the great French poster below.