Charleton Heston
Roddy McDowall
Kim Hunter
Maurice Evans
Linda Harrison
Robert Gunner
Lou Wagner

Franklin J. Schaffner


Time: 112 Minutes
Rating: PG
Genre: Science Fiction/Drama

AWARDS: Won Honorary Academy Award for Outstanding Makeup Achievement. Nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Original Score.

I could swear I saw this movie when I was growing up. I remember the talking apes. However, after recently watching it again on DVD, I have to say that I didn't recall as much of the story as I thought. Maybe I saw one of the sequels. In any case, I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed with the film. Granted, it was originally made as a political statement, but now it seems dated and a little strident. I guess it was somewhat original to turn the tables on humans and make them the animals, but other than that there isn't really much of a plot. This is a one-trick pony that fairly limps along. Heston tries to convince the apes he's not an animal, they refuse to believe him. That's basically all that happens.

Charlton Heston plays Colonel George Taylor, commander of a space mission that was supposed to be gone for only a few years, but crash lands on a remote planet over 2000 light years from the time they left Earth. Taylor and his two remaining crew members have no choice but to search for life on this desolate planet, wandering for days across the desert. They finally do find creatures similar to humans, but they don't get much time to investigate as they and this "tribe" are soon captured by armed gorillas on horseback. It quickly becomes apparent that this is not the Earth they left. Here the ape is the dominant species with man unable to speak or think at more than a basic survival level.

Taylor, whose voice was injured in the capture, is placed in a cage for observation. His attempts to communicate are considered an aberration, a trick. His doctor, Zira, is thrilled once he begins to speak. She has never seen a human with that ability before. She is convinced that there was a race of humans who were intelligent that lived on the planet thousands of years before in the Forbidden Zone, but has never been able to prove her theory. She doesn't quite believe Taylor's story of coming from outer space, but the fact that he can think and speak is good enough for her. Unfortunately, her superior Dr. Zaias is not as pleased as she'd hoped. What she's trying to prove is treason, going against the fundamentals of their religion and history. If she continues pursuing this course, she could end up in as much trouble as her subject.




"Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"

Of course, Taylor is not about to become anybody's test subject, so he continually tries to escape. Eventually, with the help of Zira and her fiance Cornelious, Taylor and his female companion, Nova, manage to get past the guards. Their destination: The Forbidden Zone. Taylor wants to put as much distance between him and the planet's inhabitants and Zira and Cornelious want to see what's out there. What they discover makes no one happy. Taylor finds he can run, but he can't hide from the truth.

As science fiction goes, this isn't a bad film. The initial third of the film is a little slow. You can only watch people traipsing across the desert for so long. Once they get captured by the apes things pick up, but get a bit preachy. Taylor's escapes are really the only action scenes in the film and though they don't have much to work with – he's escaping on foot – the filmmakers make the sequences pretty exciting. The makeup, which won an Oscar, is pretty good for the time, but nothing by today's standards. I guess I just expected more, something deeper. We bought the complete series on DVD and now I'm scared to watch the others. If this one is so one-dimensional, they can only get worse. If you've never seen this film, it's one to check out as a cult classic. It's worth it to watch Heston chew up the scenery and fight with the apes.

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