A classic sci-fi adventure that remains as powerful today as when it was first released, Planet Of The Apes was a project that had the potential to go badly wrong. Based on Pierre Boulle’s novel La Planete des singes, a movie featuring so many actors in ape suits was surely a recipe for audiences sniggering rather than cowering behind their hands.
Studio bosses must have thought the same, as before the film went into production, make up artist John Chambers shot a test scene with Heston (as human character Taylor) and Edward G Robinson (as apeman Dr Zaius) to show how convincing the apes would look. Chambers was given $50,000 to develop the make-up effects, and when Robinson pulled out of production (he reportedly didn’t want to spend hours in the make up chair), Maurice Evans took over the role.
It was money well spent – the apes that Taylor and his two fellow astronauts encounter when they crash land on a planet are scary indeed, especially when we, and Taylor, realise that they rule the desolate land and humans are the mute animals. The casting is perfect – Heston, running around in little more than a leather handkerchief, is butch and gruff, and McDowall and Kim Hunter, as ‘friendly’ apes Cornelius and Zira, manage to escape the confines of their impressive make up to deliver heartfelt performances.
Punctuated by memorable set pieces – Taylor’s first glimpse of the new planet, his capture, and, of course, the unforgettable ending – this superb piece of cinema was followed by four sequels, a TV series, an ill-advised 2001 reboot, and the superb Apes trilogy that began with 2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.
Is Planet of the Apes (1968) suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
While this movie is rated PG, parents should note that there are some intense scenes that may upset children under the age of 11 and more sensitive viewers.
Parents should note that many of the humans are scantily clad, wearing little more than leather patches, and in one scene a character is stripped though only seen from the rear.
There are battles between apes and humans, and scenes of humans being captured and beaten.
Viewers may find scenes in which humans are terrorised by apes (shot, hosed, clubbed) disturbing. There is also a reference to castration.
A discovery in the museum may upset sensitive viewers.
If you like this, why not try: Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, Escape From The Planet Of The Apes, Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes, Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes,