Thursday, July 3, 2014

Planet of the Apes Through a Kid’s Eyes

Another 4:30 movie week that was cause for major celebrations in my home as a child was Planet of the Apes.  We started watching these due to a fortunate accidental purchase.  I was trying to decide between the two versions of G I Joe Retaliation in the store.  Per usual in these shop online days, none of the sales people had any idea what the different content or specifications were.  Upon seeing Rise of the Planet of the Apes on the sale rack, I grabbed that instead. 

I was overly impressed for reasons to be seen in a later post. With a sequel on the way, I started pushing to introduce my daughter to yet another fictional universe.  My wife knowing, and enjoying this particular fictional universe helped immeasurably with the convincing.

Many aspects of the way we expect to experience motion pictures have changed over the years.   The whole idea of “opening credits” beyond a title and maybe one or two stars and the director is completely foreign to modern movie watchers.

We came close to losing my daughter before anything happened.  She kept herself interested with a near constant stream of complaints and smart aleck remarks (that’s my girl) about a film that consisted solely of “glowing things.”

The film finally caught her attention somewhat when the characters showed up, though the fact that the only woman died immediately upset her.  She’s not a fan of movies that have “no girls” in them.

What I found very interesting was her view of Taylor’s constant monologues when he kept saying, “There has to be something better” than man.  Instead of viewing it as a condemnation of the human race, she viewed it as him being very optimistic.  Aren’t they cute before life bludgeons the idealism out of them?

The idea of having the astronauts’ long walk let the audience experience their isolation worked a little too well. My daughter started to seriously zone out again.  The signs of plants, and the footprint put there to be excessively visible on screen caught her attention again.  Based on the print’s dramatic visibility, she decided they were about to meet someone with exceptionally big feet.

Hey, you know what else has drastically changed about movies over the years? 
The rating system. 

I expected Planet of the Apes to have way more violence and bloodshed than a modern PG movie, never mind one with a G rating like it has.  I mean, Frozen was PG: the letters are basically meaningless now.  However, having only seen the film on television for most of my life, I was ill prepared for the – far greater than all the G movies we’ve watched together combined – number of naked butts that were projected onto our high definition widescreen plasma screen.

The living room was a tad uncomfortable for a few scenes.

Nova showed up, and my daughter said she was pretty…
Every single time she appeared.

Can’t really argue with that. 

In fact it’s possible that watching these films as a young boy imprinted me into becoming a Leela fan in my teenage years.

She was fully emotionally invested in the film once the apes showed up, and she found their city to be jaw droppingly cool.  She is definitely far smarter and more observant than I was at her age.  From early on, she pointed out that the interactions on this planet were the exact reverse of how we humans treat animals. 

When I was ten, I just rolled around on the floor making monkey noises when these movies were on. 

Although I still do that now…
It may be a male/female thing instead of age intelligence.

Her two sided reactions were a testament to the depth and realism of the characters and situations this story created.  Half the time, she was calling the apes out for being “horrible” and “mean.” The other half, she simply kept repeating, “THIS IS SO COOL!”

As the movie reached the ending, her chief worry was only for Nova, as the only other “pretty” character had died.

Aside: It went over her head, but you just gotta laugh at every scene near the finish with Charlton Heston extoling his own skills, and the general virtues, of holding a rifle.

We got to the ending.

Of course, Rod Serling’s finale to Planet of the Apes is one of, if not THE most famous shock twists in all of moviedom.  It’s been referenced and spoofed countless times.  Rerelease posters and video covers for the film have shown it.  If I hadn’t hit “play” fast enough upon loading the Blu-ray, the on screen menu images would have spoiled it.

The Statue of Liberty scene is iconic, impressed in the popular culture and known by every person before when they sit down to watch the movie.

that person is ten years old, and had no reason to make any cultural connections to it. 

In that case, the power of the remains of the destroyed symbol of hope can hit with a force that sends emotional aftershocks through the living room for quite a while.


“Why would someone blow up the Statue of Liberty?”

Explaining that it was far more than the statue that got blown up didn’t help matters.


I think it was the only time Heston said, “Damn” that her overly sensitized anti profanity instincts didn’t kick in.

She immediately demanded we needed to watch the other movies to get to a happy ending.

Yeah, that would work.

Key Surprise Statement:

"Take Your Stinking Paws Off Me You Damn Dirty Apes."

Apes Index


longbow said...

I always have my antennae raised during opening credits. A long sequence indicates narcissism above and beyond normal entertainers. A shortening trend would be welcome

Jeff McGinley said...

Movies all used to have opening credits. Then as they got longer they moved to the end leading to the "list everyone" mentality we have today.

But the late 60's and 70's were the worst for extending the credits before the shift till after the film.

The 1978 superman takes forever to start

Thanx for reading.