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Planet of The Apes (1968)

The late 1960s was when filmmakers adapted New Wave cinema, which dates to the late 1950s in Europe when filmmakers such as Godard and Bergman created films such as Breathless and Persona. As a result, several films in America between 1967 and 1971 had new forms of plots, with some having extreme gun violence, and in this case, blending in a comparison of humans to apes and the start of the space and jet age. In 1968, director Franklin J. Schaffner was part of Planet of the Apes, a well-known television series with future film adaptations and sequels.


The movie was highly thought-provoking, showing how humans and apes are alike. The special effects, wardrobe, and costume design were executed successfully, allowing viewers to see that all the apes were live-action, real-looking creatures. At the film's start, three men from Earth are on a spaceship-style aircraft and crash on some planet with only mountains and deserts. Viewers during this time had no idea what planet they landed on, but it was observed that the year was well beyond 1968 and 2023; it went ahead about 1,000 years, where there were many context clues that some remains of the past world were intact, with the Statue of Liberty as the example used in this film.


The late 1960s was a turning point for films and air and space travel. The jet age was in full swing, and the first flight to the moon was in the planning phases, which took place the following year. Additionally, two jetliners, the Boeing 747, one of two double-deck jetliners, and the Concorde, the only supersonic passenger jet type ever built, were undergoing development and were placed into passenger service in the early to mid-1970s. Additionally, in 1968, Stanley Kubrick created another Science Fiction film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and some aspects of the spaceship were adapted at the beginning of this version of Planet of The Apes. Those aspects created a cliché of how the future of filmmaking and storytelling evolved into future films.


Although this film was innovative then, the plot had several drawbacks, and the story took a lot of work. It was unusual for a story to start with the ending and for the characters to enter a different world. As a result, viewers had difficulty staying on track with the plot because the interaction between the people and the apes needed clarification about who the protagonist or antagonist is within the story. It would have been better if the story had an ending if the three characters from the plane crash made it back to Earth or traveled back to 1968, the year they last remembered.


As this was one of the first films about the Earth’s future, there was a blend of several genres, with Science Fiction being the most obvious. There were also aspects of American Western and Melodrama because some apes were riding on horses, and one woman was paired up with one of the men from the plane crash. What makes this film more of a Western is that it was filmed in Arizona near the Grand Canyon, which makes it suitable for this film to be called a “Science Fiction Melodrama Western.” This film also contributed to the development of future American New Wave films, including Apocalypse Now, a similar innovative film with new forms of storytelling.

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