George Taylor (Charlton Heston) and a crew of three are on a long term voyage to a planet in the constellation of Orion. They are in deep hibernation when the spaceship crashes into a lake. The ship’s systems activate and the crew is revived. One of the crew, a woman, has died when her life support systems malfunctioned. The three remaining crew members, Taylor, Landon (Robert Gunner) and Dodge (Jeff Burton) exit the ship and paddle away on an inflatable raft as the ship sinks. They paddle down a waterway until it ends.

On land they find themselves in a desert. They spend days crossing the desert. Eventually they end up at a green area with a waterfall. While bathing, their clothes and survival equipment are stolen. Following the trail of broken equipment and shredded clothes they come across an orchard and a crop of corn. In the orchard are humans eating fruit they picked from the trees. The humans appear to be primitive and mute.

Suddenly they are attacked by armed apes on horseback. The humans scatter, including the three astronauts. In the skirmish Dodge is killed, Landon is knocked unconscious. Taylor is shot in the throat and thrown on a cart with other humans. He is taken to the Ape City where veterinarians give him a transfusion from a female human. Taylor begins to heal but the wound renders him unable to speak.

Zira (Kim Hunter) is a chimpanzee and an animal psychologist that takes an interest in Taylor. She visits him and begins to call him Bright Eyes because, unlike the others, he seems to understand her and appears as if he is trying to communicate with her. Zira’s fiancée Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) is not so easily swayed. Zira puts a young female in the cage with Taylor hoping they will mate. The woman is the same one who was the donor for Taylor’s transfusion. Taylor calls her Nova. Zira finds out that Taylor can write. He explains to them that he came from another planet in a spaceship. Since the primates have not discovered flight of any kind, Cornelius may allow that Taylor is different but flying is out of the question. When Taylor finally regains his voice the primates are shocked.

The primate hierarchy is a class system. In “Planet of the Apes” the order is Orangutans (Governors and Politicians), Chimpanzees (Scientists and Intellectuals) then Gorillas (workers and soldiers). Humans aren’t even on the list. Taylor, as a thinking being, threatens their entire belief system. The ape council holds a hearing to determine Taylor’s origins. The decision of the counsel could determine whether or not Taylor lives or dies. The council may think they are the three wise monkeys but in reality they are turning a blind eye and ear to the truth.

“Planet of the Apes” was released in 1968 and was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. It is based on the novel by Pierre Boulle.

During breaks in filming, actors made up as different ape species tended to hang out together, gorillas with gorillas, orangutans with orangutans, chimps with chimps. It wasn't required, it just naturally happened.

The film required a make-up team of over 80 make-up artists. The movie holds the world record for the highest make-up budget, at the time $345,542, which represented about 17% of the total budget.

This was Heston's first nude scene and is one of only two G-rated movies to include nudity. The other film was “The Bible: In the Beginning...” 1966. I’m not sure how it managed to get a “G” rating. The Bible I can understand. Even censors don’t want to cross the almighty but “Planet of the Apes” is basically blasphemous. The original script called for the female humans to be bare breasted but Fox didn’t think they could get that by the censors. There are no female orangutans or gorillas in the movie.

I find it interesting that even though the apes have evolved and humans devolved the apes aren’t exactly doing any better job of running things than the humans did. Even so, or maybe because of the evolutionary conversion, the film is a very thought provoking exercise in not only man’s place in the world but also in the underlying complex intellectual issues and theological theories of science verses religion. And it’s all surrounded by high action and a half naked Charlton Heston. Cool.

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