Planet of the Apes – 35th Anniversary Edition

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Rating: G

Starring:
Charlton Heston as George Taylor
Roddy McDowall as Cornelius
Kim Hunter as Zira
Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius
James Whitmore as President of the Assembly
James Daly as Dr. Honorious
Linda Harrison as Nova
Robert Gunner as Landon
Lou Wagner as Lucius
Woodrow Parfrey as Dr. Maximus
Jeff Burton as Dodge
Buck Kartalian as Julius
Norman Burton as Leader of the hunt
Wright King as Dr. Galen
Paul Lambert as Minister

Special Features:
Commentary by composer Jerry Goldsmith

Commentary by actors Roddy McDowall, Natalie Trundy, and Kim Hunter, producer Richard Zanuck, and make-up artist John Chambers

Text commentary by Eric Greene, author of Planet of the Apes as American Myth

Behind the Planet of the Apes documentary (126 min.)

Behind the Planet of the Apes promo (1998)

Planet of the Apes makeup test with Edward G. Robinson (1966)

Roddy McDowall home movies (approx. 20 min.)

Planet of the Apes dailies and outtakes (no audio) (approx. 20 min.)

Planet of the Apes (1967 N.A.T.O. Presentation)

Planet of the Apes featurette (1968)

A Look Behind the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Don Taylor Directs Escape from the Planet of the Apes

J. Lee Thompson Directs Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

Publicity: Original theatrical trailers, Planet of the Apes teaser trailer, film reviews (1968), theatrical posters

Galleries: Original sketches by costume designer Morton Haack, photo gallery

Ape Phenomenon: Ape Merchandise, MEGO toy commercial, ape collections

DVD-ROM: Planet of the Apes Timeline

Other Info:
Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS Digital Surround Sound

Synopsis:
Planet of the Apes is based on the novel by Pierre Boulle. This is the 1968 version of the film.

George Taylor and his crew are returning to Earth after an extensive expedition in a far off solar system. Though only a little time has passed for them, 2000 years have passed on Earth. Unfortunately, along the way their ship malfunctions and crash lands on a strange planet.

As Taylor and the crew explore the planet, they discover a group of primitive humans. Even more disturbing, they are being attacked by talking apes armed with guns. As the humans are rounded up as slaves, Taylor is captured with them and his crewmen are killed. Now alone and imprisoned on this strange world, Taylor must face his ape captors if he’s to survive.

Planet of the Apes is rated G.

The Movie:
It was quite a treat to see Planet of the Apes on DVD in this special 35th Anniversary edition. Over the years I had seen bits and pieces of the film on TV, but I realized that I had never sat down and watched the whole thing at once. It was quite an accomplishment for its time to take such an absurd idea as a planet of talking apes and turn it into a classic sci-fi film.

Looking at the movie 35 years later, parts of the film hold up better than others. The opening scenes where Taylor puffs a cigar on a “futuristic” spaceship look terribly dated. Some of Heston’s acting is incredibly over the top as well. The ape makeup also doesn’t hold up as much though it was groundbreaking for its time. Not only that, I was surprised to see so many bare butts in the movie (edited form the TV version). I was shocked to see it got a G rating in 1968. All that aside, though, the story and characters still hold up well and that’s what’s most important. The plot is an intriguing science fiction tale filled with commentary on race, religion, society, and politics. Planet of the Apes also has a wicked sense of humor as we see apes pose next to dead humans for a photograph, puns about “human see, human do”, and a subtle recreation of the classic joke “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.

Planet of the Apes also features many things that are now pop culture icons. You have Charlton Heston’s famous line “Get your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!” You have “It’s a madhouse! A madhouse!” You get the idea. The ending was also a cinematic classic as it featured one of the all time best movie plot twists. It has rarely been equaled on the big screen.

If you’ve seen Planet of the Apes then you know you’ll want to add this to your collection, especially if you’re a sci-fi buff. If you’ve never seen Planet of the Apes then you should treat yourself to a viewing as soon as possible.

The Extras:
There are an incredible number of extras on this two disc set. In fact, there are so many that I’m hard pressed to cover them all. But here are a few of the highlights:

Commentary by composer Jerry Goldsmith – This legendary composer discusses the creation of the score in depth. Goldsmith goes for long spells without saying much, but it’s interesting if you’re a fan of the music.

Commentary by actors Roddy McDowall, Natalie Trundy, and Kim Hunter, producer Richard Zanuck, and make-up artist John Chambers – This is probably the more interesting of the two audio commentaries. McDowell obviously recorded his comments some time previous to his 1998 death. He tells anecdotes from the set along with the makeup artist. While the commentary doesn’t always go along with the movie, it is still pretty cool to listen to.

Text commentary by Eric Greene, author of Planet of the Apes as American Myth – As you watch the movie you can turn on these text comments which discuss trivia about the movies, deleted scenes, and commentary about the plot. If you’ve seen the movie before, you may want to watch it with the comments. Where else will you learn that Sammy Davis Jr. had one of the ape statues in his house?

Behind the Planet of the Apes documentary – This two hour documentary is hosted by Roddy McDowell. It starts out going into detail about the genesis of the script. It then moves on to cover the filming of the movie, the original makeup, and more. There are interviews with all the surviving cast and crew including Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, and others. The documentary then covers the four sequels to the original movie, the TV series, and the Saturday Morning Cartoon. This feature is quite thorough at covering every aspect of the saga and will definitely make you an ape expert.

Behind the Planet of the Apes promo (1998) – This is simply a promo for the previously mentioned documentary.

Planet of the Apes makeup test with Edward G. Robinson (1966) – In order to convince 20th Century Fox that they could pull off this movie, the creators made this demo film showing what the makeup would look like. Edward G. Robinson played the role of Dr. Zaius. Though the makeup was primitive, it convinced the studio to greenlight the film. This particular video also shows early storyboards and plot concepts showing the apes flying helicopters, driving cars, and more.

Roddy McDowall home movies – This is about 20 minutes of behind the scenes video shot on the set by Roddy McDowell. You see the makeup process, filming at the beach, and lots of scenes of apes smoking. It seems like McDowell shot most of the archival footage used in the DVD extras. It certainly shows a lot of foresight on his part.

Planet of the Apes dailies and outtakes (no audio) – These dailies show a lot of behind the scenes footage and they give you a glimpse at how the shots were set up and executed. You cast and crew scurrying about before shots.

Planet of the Apes (1967 N.A.T.O. Presentation) – This is a synopsis of the film that’s about 10 minutes long featuring many clips from the movie. At the end, Heston talks a bit about the movie and the cast. I think this was a presentation for a chain of theater owners rather than the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Planet of the Apes featurette (1968) – This is a 5 minute promo movie showing concept paintings from the movie and a few clips from the final film.

A Look Behind the Planet of the Apes (1972) – This is a 14 minute film on the making of the movie. It has clips from the film, pieces from the NATO presentation, and a fair amount of behind the scenes footage (seen elsewhere on the DVD, too). It is also a promo for the sequels to the film. It looks like it aired on TV at some point.

Don Taylor Directs Escape from the Planet of the Apes – This is an eight minute video showing vintage footage of Don Taylor directing the second sequel to Planet of the Apes. Most of the footage seems to be from the circus tent set. You’ll also catch glimpses of a young Ricardo Montalban. There is also a brief one on one interview with the director.

J. Lee Thompson Directs Conquest of the Planet of the Apes – This is a one minute behind the scenes clip from the fourth Planet of the Apes sequel. You see a little vintage footage and not much more.

Ape Phenomenon – This is a collection of stills of Planet of the Apes toys and merchandise.

The Bottom Line:
Planet of the Apes is a sci-fi classic well worth adding to your collection.

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