28 July 2013

Escape from Planet of the Apes

Escape from the Planet of the Apes 1971
  • Director: Don Taylor
  • Based on characters in the novel by Pierre Boulle
  • Cast: Roddy McDowell, Kim Hunter, Bradford Dillman, Natalie Trundy, Eric Braedon, Ricardo Montalban, WilliamWindom
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Roddy McDowell – Overboard, The Poseidon Adventure, Inside Daisy Clover, Cleopatra, The Longest Day, the other Apes films
    • Kim Hunter – the other Ape films
    • Bradford Dillman -  old TV series, I suppose
    • Natalie Trundy – the other Planet of the Apes sequels
    • Eric Braedon – Titanic and old TV series
    • Ricardo Montalban – Sweet Charity and old TV series
    • William Windom – To Kill a Mockingbird and old TV series
  • Why? Part of series
  • Seen: Once or twice back then. Now: July 19, 2013.

Zira and Cornelius have managed to escape from the nuclear destruction of our two-thousand-years-in-the-future-Earth and come back through the same time warp to end up in L.A. in the ‘70’s.
Even within this unlikely scenario – which I can happily accept – the chain of events is awfully contrived, which I can’t.  At times it’s cloyingly sweet and cute, especially when Zira wrinkles her nose and bats her eyelashes.
But there’s something captivating about the movie. It was made in the early 70’s and its tiny hint of feminism seems pathetically trite and obvious to us (I wonder, though, what percentage of today’s husbands actually do 50 % of the housework…) but back then this was probably seen as quite radical, as was having several black actors in roles that had nothing to do with ethnicity (no black actresses though.)
The simplistic but still valid philosophy is also appealing.  Treat strangers with respect, openness and curiosity instead of violence and hatred even if they are talking chimpanzees. Learn to stay no to oppression and to being treated as a pet.  Don’t condemn the enemy for committing the exact same crimes you yourself have committed.
And I was quite impressed with the Shakespearean touch of having the villain speak the words of most wisdom: we can’t wait any longer when the world is threatened by nuclear and environmental disaster.  We must act now.
We should sometimes listen to the villains.
This one is the best Planet of the Apes so far.

2 ¾ * of 5

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