Planet of the Apes (1968 film): Wikis


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Planet of the Apes
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
Produced by Mort Abrahams
Arthur P. Jacobs
Written by Novel:
Pierre Boulle
Michael Wilson
Rod Serling
Starring Charlton Heston
Roddy McDowall
Kim Hunter
Maurice Evans
James Whitmore
James Daly
Linda Harrison
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Editing by Hugh S. Fowler
Studio APJAC Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) February 8, 1968
Running time 112 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$5,800,000
Gross revenue US$32,589,624
Followed by Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes is a 1968 epic science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner loosely based on the novel La planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Charlton Heston and features Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, veteran Shakespearean actor Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison. The script was originally written by Rod Serling but had many rewrites before eventually being made.[1] Changes included character names and a more primitive ape society, instead of the more expensive idea of having futuristic buildings and advanced technology.[2]

The film was ground-breaking for its prosthetic makeup techniques by artist John Chambers,[3] and was well received by critics and audiences, launching a film franchise,[4] including four sequels, as well as a short lived television show, animated series, comic books, various merchandising, and eventually a remake in 2001. Roddy McDowall, in particular, had a long-running relationship with the Apes series, appearing in the original series of five films (one only via stock footage from an earlier film), and also in the television series.

In 2001, Planet of the Apes was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".



Astronauts Taylor (Heston), Landon (Robert Gunner), Stewart (Dianne Stanley), and Dodge (Jeff Burton) are in deep hibernation when their spaceship crash-lands in a lake on an unknown planet in the year 3978 A.D. after a 2006-year voyage at near-light speed (during which the crew ages only 18 months due to time dilation). The planet has no moon and the clouds at night are luminous. The astronauts awaken to find that Stewart has died in space due to an air leak and her body in decomposition and that their ship is sinking. They use an inflatable raft to reach shore. Once there, Dodge performs a soil test and pronounces the soil incapable of sustaining life. Taylor suggests they are on a planet in the constellation of Orion some 320 light years from Earth but admits he is not sure.

The three astronauts set off through the desert, finding first a single plant and then others. They find an oasis at the edge of the desert where they decide to go swimming, ignoring strange 'scarecrows'. While they are swimming, their clothes are stolen. Pursuing the thieves, the astronauts find their clothes in shreds and the perpetrators — a group of mute, primitive humans — contentedly raiding a cornfield. Suddenly, gorillas on horseback charge through the cornfield, brandishing firearms, snares, and nets, which they use to capture whatever humans they can and kill those they cannot. While fleeing, Dodge is killed, Landon is captured, and Taylor is shot in the throat. The gorillas take Taylor to "Ape City," where his life is saved by two chimpanzee scientists, Zira (Hunter) and Cornelius (McDowall). Upon awakening, Taylor—now housed in a cage with a girl who Taylor later calls Nova (Harrison), who was captured on the same hunt—discovers that his throat wound has rendered him temporarily mute.

Taylor discovers that the apes, who can talk, are in control and are divided into a strict class system: the gorillas as police, military, and hunters; the orangutans as administrators, politicians and lawyers; and the chimpanzees as intellectuals and scientists. Humans, who cannot talk, are considered feral vermin and are hunted and either killed outright, enslaved for manual labor or used for scientific experimentation.

Zira and her fiancé, Cornelius, an archaeologist, take an interest in Taylor after he tries to communicate by mouthing words. While Cornelius and Zira are talking to their boss, an orangutan named Dr. Zaius (Evans), Taylor writes in the dirt and attempts to call Cornelius and Zira's attention to it; only Zaius sees it, though, and realizing that Taylor is intelligent, he destroys the writing with his cane. Eventually, Taylor steals paper from Zira when she comes close to his cage and uses it to write messages to her. Zira and Cornelius are convinced that Taylor is intelligent; upon learning of this, Zaius orders that Taylor be "emasculated" (castrated).

Taylor manages to escape before the procedure can be carried out and flees through Ape City, which he discovers to be an architecturally primitive version of 20th Century Earth. During his flight, he finds himself in a museum, where Dodge's corpse has been taxidermied and put on display. Shortly thereafter, Taylor is recaptured by gorillas; finding that his throat has healed, he angrily addresses them, shouting "Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"

When back in his cell, Nova is then transferred to a cell across from Taylor's cell as the warden Julius (Buck Kartalian) sprays Taylor with water. The shocked apes hold a tribunal to determine Taylor's origins (in a parody of the Scopes "Monkey" Trial) run by the President of the Assembly (James Whitmore), Dr. Zaius, and Dr. Maximus (Woodrow Parfrey) with Dr. Honorious (James Daly) as the prosecution. Taylor tells of his two comrades and explains that one was killed and the other lost. At this point the court produces Landon, who has been subjected to a primitive lobotomy that has rendered him catatonic.

After the tribunal, Dr. Zaius holds a private meeting with Taylor, where he threatens to lobotomize him if he doesn't lie about where he came from. With help from Lucius (Lou Wagner), Zira and Cornelius intervene early the next morning and "kidnap" Taylor and Nova, taking them to "The Forbidden Zone," a region outside of Ape City which has been ordered quarantined by Dr. Zaius and the other orangutans. Upon arriving, Cornelius shows Taylor the remnants of a technologically advanced human society, which he discovered a year earlier while on an archaeological expedition; the apes' world was, at one time, controlled by humans, but at some point in history, apes developed sentience and the roles of apes and humans were inverted, with apes becoming the dominant species and man becoming the apes' household pets, and later becoming animals living in the wild, incapable of speech.

Dr. Zaius arrives with a band of armed gorillas to capture or kill Taylor. Taylor presents Dr. Zaius with the ruins of the human society, which Zaius seems to already know about. He agrees to exile Taylor and Nova. When asked by Zira "What will he find out there, Doctor?", Zaius replies: "his destiny." Once Taylor and Nova have ridden away on horseback, Dr. Zaius has the gorillas lay explosives and destroy the evidence of the human society.

After an unspecified time spent following the shoreline, Taylor and Nova find something on the shore; Taylor stops the horse and dismounts, approaching the object before descending into a fit of rage, declaring that he has been home all along. Referring to a destroyed statue and to his own civilization he says: "We finally really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you. God damn you all to hell." As the film ends, the picture zooms out to reveal the remnants of the Statue of Liberty, half-submerged in the shoreline, a symbol of mankind's ultimate demise.

Deviations from the novel

The film deviated from the original French novel in a number of ways:

  • The hero is not a French journalist named Ulysse Mérou, but an American astronaut named Colonel George Taylor.
  • The humans wear primitive clothing of animal skins. They were naked in the novel.
  • The technology and general settings of the apes' towns are more primitive than in Boulle's original concept. This was a deliberate decision to reduce design and construction costs. Architectural elements were based on observations of ancient cave cities.
  • The apes speak perfect 20th century English, while they spoke a wholly different language in the book. Ulysse has to learn it to get acquainted, while in the movie, Taylor has a throat wound which prevents him from speaking at first.
  • In the original novel, the Planet of the Apes is located in the solar system of Betelgeuse and is not Earth. However the twist ending of the novel has Ulysse Mérou arriving back to Earth after his space flight to find out that it has taken the exact same evolutionary path and that the Apes are now in control. Although it is a significantly different twist ending, it inspired Rod Serling's twist. Producer Arthur P. Jacobs contacted Pierre Boulle and asked him to take a look at the script to see if it could be improved, to which the author responded on April 29, 1965. He said that "he truly did not like the Statue of Liberty ending, feeling that it cheapened the story as a whole, and served as the 'temptation from the Devil'. In fact, if Boulle was to contribute anything at all to the screenplay he would, in his own words, 'have to dismiss it entirely from my mind'".[5] In the film, Taylor suggests they may be on a planet in orbit around a star in the constellation of Orion, where Betelgeuse is located. The astronauts initially speculate that the planet may be in orbit around Bellatrix, which is also in Orion.


In the late 1960s most studios were not convinced that this film was a feasible production. One script that came close to being made was written by Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, though it was finally rejected for a number of reasons. A prime concern was cost, as the technologically advanced ape society portrayed by Serling's script would have involved expensive sets, props and special effects. Serling's script was rewritten and the ape society made more primitive as a way of reducing costs.

However his stylized twist ending (a trademark from his Twilight Zone days) was retained, leading to one of the most famous movie endings of all time. The exact location and state of decay of the Statue of Liberty (as seen in the 1998 documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes[6]) changed over several storyboards. One version depicted the statue buried up to its nose in the middle of a jungle while another depicted the statue in pieces.

In order to convince the Fox Studio that a Planet of the Apes film could really be made, the producers shot a brief test scene using early versions of the ape makeup. Charlton Heston appeared as an early version of Taylor (named Thomas, as he was in Rod Serling-penned drafts of the script), Edward G. Robinson appeared as Zaius, while then-unknown actors James Brolin and Linda Harrison played Cornelius and Zira. Harrison, who was the girlfriend of the head of the studio at the time, would later play Nova in the 1968 film and its first sequel, and have a cameo in the Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes (2001 film) more than 30 years later (as did Heston). This test footage is included on several DVD releases of the film, as well as the documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes. Dr. Zaius was originally to have been played by Robinson, but he backed out due to the heavy make-up, and long sessions to apply it, that were required. (Robinson later made his final film, Soylent Green (1973), opposite his one-time Ten Commandments (1956) co-star Heston).

John Chambers had actually tested the ape makeup some time earlier, in the TV series Lost in Space (1965-1968) (another 20th Century Fox production at the time). In one episode,[7] Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) and Major West are imprisoned along with an ape-like alien. Harris was offered a role in Planet of the Apes but, like Edward G. Robinson, turned it down due to the complexities of makeup.

Filming began on May 21, 1967, and ended on August 10, 1967. Most of the early scenes of a desert-like terrain were shot in northern Arizona near the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, Lake Powell,[8] Glen Canyon[8] and other locations near Page, Arizona[9] Most scenes of the ape village, interiors and exteriors, were filmed on the Fox Ranch[10] in Malibu Creek State Park, northwest of Los Angeles, essentially the backlot of 20th Century Fox. The concluding beach scenes were filmed on a stretch of California seacoast between Malibu and Oxnard with cliffs that towered 130 feet above the shore. Reaching the beach on foot was virtually impossible, so cast, crew, film equipment, and even horses had to be lowered in by helicopter.[11] The remains of the Statue of Liberty were shot in a secluded cove on the far eastern end of Westward Beach, between Zuma Beach and Point Dume in Malibu.[12] As noted in the documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes,[6] the special effect shot of the half-buried statue was achieved by seamlessly blending a matte painting with existing cliffs.


Critical Reception

Planet of the Apes was well received by critics and is widely regarded as one of the best films of 1968.[13][14][15][16] The film holds an 89% "Certified Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 44 reviews.[17] In 2008, the film was selected by Empire Magazine as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.[18]

Academy Awards

Award Person
Honorary Award for Outstanding Makeup Achievement John Chambers
Best Costume Design Morton Haack
Best Score Jerry Goldsmith

Planet of the Apes won an honorary Academy Award for John Chambers for his outstanding make-up achievement. It was nominated for Best Costume Design (Morton Haack)[19] and Best Original Score for a Motion Picture (not a Musical). The score is known for its avant-garde compositional techniques, as well as the use of unusual percussion instruments and extended performance techniques. The film was eligible for nomination for the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1968, but failed to make the final list of five films.[20][21]

Other awards

The movie is on several of the American Film Institute's lists but did not make the top 100 movies either time. However, the musical score by Jerry Goldsmith was picked as the 18th best film score in American Cinema according to AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores. Also according to the American Film Institute, it contains the 66th best movie line: "Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!" The film is also ranked at #59 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills list.

In 2001, Planet of the Apes was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[22]


Planet of the Apes was followed by four sequels:

and two short-lived television series:

The movie was "reimagined" in 2001; see Planet of the Apes (2001 film).

Marvel Comics produced full comic book adaptations of all the films, a number of original stories in the Apes universe, including Terror On The Planet Of The Apes, Future History Chronicles and others. Mailbu Comics would also produce several Planet of the Apes titles, including Planet of the Apes and Ape Nation.


  1. ^ "30 Years Later: Rod Serling's Settling the Debate over Who Wrote What, and When". Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  2. ^ "Those Damned Dirty Apes!". Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  3. ^ Biography for John Chambers (I), August 4, 2007
  4. ^ "Planet of the Apes (1968) A Film Review by James Berardinelli". Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  5. ^ Russo, Joe; Landsman, Larry; Gross, Edward (2001) (trade paperback). Planet of the Apes Revisited: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of the Classic Science Fiction Saga. New York: Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin's Griffin. p. 22. ISBN 0-312-25239-0. 
  6. ^ a b "Behind the Planet of the Apes" (1998) (TV)
  7. ^ "Lost in Space" Junkyard of Space (1968)
  8. ^ a b Planet of the Apes Revisited, p. 61
  9. ^ Planet of the Apes Revisited, p. 59
  10. ^ Planet of the Apes Revisited, p. 68
  11. ^ Planet of the Apes Revisited, P. 79
  12. ^ Final shot location at Westward Beach, Malibu at
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Morton Haack at the Internet Movie Database
  20. ^ Wiley, Mason; Bona, Damien (1986). MacColl, Gail. ed. Inside Oscar: The Unofficial History of the Academy Awards. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 768. 
  21. ^ The 5 nominated films for Best Picture of 1968 were Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Oliver!, Rachel, Rachel, and Romeo and Julet. The winner was Oliver!.
  22. ^

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Planet of the Apes is a 1968 film about an astronaut who finds himself 2,000+ years in the future, stranded on an earth-like planet where humans are enslaved by apes.

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. Written by Pierre Boulle, Michael Wilson and Rod Serling.
Somewhere in the Universe, there must be something better than man! taglines


George Taylor

  • Imagine me needing someone. Back on Earth I never did. Oh, there were women. Lots of women. Lots of love-making but no love. You see, that was the kind of world we'd made. So I left, because there was no one to hold me there.
  • And that completes my final report until we reach touchdown. We're now on full automatic in the hands of the computers. I've tucked my crew in for the long sleep, and I'll be joining them...soon. In less than an hour we'll finish our six months out of Cape Kennedy. Six months in deep our time, that is. According to Dr. Hasslein's theory of time in a vehicle traveling nearly the speed of light, the Earth has aged nearly 700 years since we left it...while we've aged hardly at all. Maybe so. This much is probably true. The men who sent us on this journey are long since dead and gone. You, who are reading me now, are a different breed...I hope a better one. I leave the 20th century with no regrets, more thing, if anybody's listening, that is. Nothing scientific. It's...purely personal. But seen from out here, everything seems different. Time bends. Space is...boundless. It squashes a man's ego. I feel lonely. That's about it. Tell me, though, does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother...keep his neighbor's children starving?
  • You're 300 light years from your precious planet. Your loved ones are dead and forgotten for 20 centuries. 20 centuries! Even if you could get back, they'd think you were something that fell out of a tree.
  • Clue me in on something, will you? Why did you sign on for this trip? You volunteered. Why? Never mind. I'll clue you in. You were the golden boy in the class of '72. When they nominated you for the big one, you couldn't turn it down...not without losing your old American image.
  • Oh, and the glory, don't forget that. There's a life-size bronze statue of you standing out there somewhere. It's probably turned green by now; nobody can read the nameplate. But never let it be said that we forget our heroes.
  • And there's just one last item: immortality. You wanted to live forever, didn't you? Well, you damn near made it. Except for me and Dodge, you've lived longer than anyone ever born. And with our lovely Lieutenant Stewart dead, looks like you're the last of the line. You got what you wanted, tiger. How does that taste?
  • It's a mad house! A mad house!
  • I'm a seeker, too. But my dreams aren't like yours. I can't help thinking that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than man. Has to be.
  • What evidence? There were no weapons in that cave.
  • But they...! (after seeing that Landon has been lobotomized) You did it. You cut up his brain, you bloody baboon!
  • You did that to him, damn you! You cut out his memory! You took his identity! And that's what you want to do to me!
  • A planet where apes evolved from men?
  • Doctor, would an ape make a human doll, that talks?
  • [to Lucius] In my world, when I left it, only kids your age wore beards.
  • [riding down the beach in the last scene] Oh my God... I'm back. I'm home. All the time it was... we finally really did it. [screaming] YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! OH, DAMN YOU! GODDAMN YOU ALL TO HELL! (camera pans to reveal the half-destroyed Statue of Liberty sticking out of the sand)

Dr. Zaius

  • Man has no understanding. He can be taught a few simple tricks. Nothing more.
  • Dr. Zira, I must caution you. Experimental brain surgery on these creatures is one thing, and I'm all in favor of it. But your behavior studies are another matter. To suggest that we can learn anything about the simian nature from a study of man is sheer nonsense. Why, man is a nuisance. He eats up his food supply in the forest, then migrates to our green belts and ravages our crops. The sooner he is exterminated, the better. It's a question of simian survival.
  • Ah, yes - the young ape with a shovel. I hear you're planning another archeological expedition. Cornelius, a friendly word of warning: as you dig for artifacts, be sure you don't bury your reputation.
  • [to humans] You are a menace. A walking pestilence.
  • [to humans] Have you forgotten your scripture, the thirteenth scroll? "And Proteus brought the upright beast into the garden and chained him to a tree and the children did make sport of him."
  • [to George] You are right, I have always known about man. From the evidence, I believe his wisdom must walk hand and hand with his idiocy. His emotions must rule his brain. He must be a warlike creature who gives battle to everything around him, even himself.
  • [to George] The Forbidden Zone was once a paradise. Your breed made a desert of it, ages ago.


Julius: You know what they say, "Human see, human do."

Ape Guard: Shut up, you freak! I said shut up!!

Cornelius: [reading from the sacred scrolls of the apes] 'Beware the beast man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport, for lust, for greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.'


George: Doctor, I'd like to kiss you goodbye.
Dr. Zira: All right, but you're so damned ugly.

George: There's your Minister of Science; honor bound to expand the frontiers of knowledge.
Dr. Zira: Taylor please!
George: Except that he's also Chief Defender of the Faith!
Dr. Zaius: There is no contradiction between faith and science... true science.
George: Are you willing to put that statement to the test?
Cornelius: Taylor I would much rather—
George: Take it easy, you saved me from this fanatic, maybe I can return the favor!

Dr. Zaius: Tell me, why are all apes created equal?
George: Some apes, it seems, are more equal than others.

Dr. Zaius: I see you've brought the female of your species. I didn't realize that man could be monogamous.
George: On this planet, it's easy.

Cornelius: Well Taylor, we're all fugitives now.
George: Do you have any weapons, any guns?
Cornelius: The best, but we won't need them.
George: I'm glad to hear it. I want one anyway.

George: [brandishing rifle] Don't try to follow us. I'm pretty handy with this.
Dr. Zaius: Of that, I'm sure. All my life I've awaited your coming and dreaded it. Like death itself.
George: Why? I've terrified you from the first, Doctor. I still do. You're afraid of me and you hate me. Why?
Dr. Zaius: Because you're a man! And you're right. I have always known about man. From the evidence, I believe his wisdom must walk hand in hand with his idiocy. His emotions must rule his brain. He must be a war-like creature who gives battle to everything around him...even himself.
George: What evidence? There were no weapons in that cave.
Dr. Zaius: The Forbidden Zone was once a paradise. Your breed made a desert of it ages ago.
George: It still doesn't give me the why...a planet where apes evolved from men? There's got to be an answer.
Dr. Zaius: Don't look for it, Taylor! You may not like what you'll find.

Lucius: Dr. Zaius, this is inexcusible! Why must knowledge stand still? What about the future?!
Dr. Zaius: I may just have saved it for you.
Dr. Zira: What will he find out there, doctor?
Dr. Zaius: His destiny.

[George ties up Dr. Zaius]
Dr. Zira: Taylor! Don't treat him that way!
George: Why not?
Dr. Zira: It's humiliating!
George: The way you humiliated me? All of you? You led me around on a leash!
Cornelius: That was different. We thought you were inferior.
George: Now you know better.

Leader of the Hunt: I don't understand these animal psychologists. What is Dr. Zira trying to prove?
Dr. Zaius: That man can be domesticated.

Dr. Zaius: The Forbidden Zone was once a paradise. Your breed made a desert of it ages ago.
George: It still doesn't give me the why. A planet where apes evolved from men? There's got to be an answer.
Dr. Zaius: Don't look for it, Taylor! You may not like what you'll find.


  • Somewhere in the Universe, there has to be something better than man. Has to be!
  • 20th Century Fox Wants You To... Go Ape [1974 re-release]
  • This is Commander Taylor, Astronaut. He has landed in a world where Apes are the rulers and Man the beast. Now he is caged, tortured, risks mutilation. Because no human can remain human on, The Planet of the Apes.
  • Hunted... haunted... wanted... like beasts of prey!


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