Planet of the Apes

Year: 1968
Director: Franklin J Schaffner
Writer: Pierre Boule/Rod Serling
Cast: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Linda Harrison, Maurice Evans
Lines like Dr Zaius (Evans) telling Taylor (Heston) that he only thinks it's an upside down world because he occupies its lower level make this an environmental and animal rights film long before its time and one of the best cinematic social commentaries ever. It struggles with issues like human intelligence, censorship (the parable of the forbidden zone and the unpalatable historical truth it carries) politics & religion (disbelief in Taylor's paper plane) and the nature of our modern society.

With Taylor's horror at his colleagues fate (medical experimentation, stuffed for a museum exhibit), what else are the film makers doing but showing us the way we treat 'inferior' animal life today?

Deceptively simple but one of the strongest premises ever written for the movies. A team of astronauts travelling at near light speed crash on a Earth-like planet where intelligent apes run a political, social and philosophical society and humans are the animals wild in the bush, hunted and herded.

Searching for both truth and escape from the nightmare, Taylor and a young human (Harrison) are helped by moderate, betrothed scientists Zera and Cornelius (Hunter & McDowell) until they discover the truths about the ape world. The last scene is still the biggest, most shocking and most effective twist in the story of any movie ever made, and Tim Burton's 2001 version had no hope of surpassing.

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