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Planet of the Apes: 35th Anniversary Edition

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 107 mins . PG . PAL


So this is how it all began? The Planet of the Apes franchise that is. Anyone with even a passing interest in the whole …Apes thing will know how it all ended, but more on that soon.

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"Who left the bloody taps on?"

Written by French author Pierre Boulle and entitled Le Planete des Singes, the novel told of a world ruled by chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. They make the rules and they enforce the rules. Humans are little more than slaves at best, sport or acceptable for scientific research at worst. Believing the only good human is a dead human, the apes rule with absolute authority.

The film, due to considerable budget restraints, differs from the film in that the planet is a lot more basic than that of the book. There are no motor cars and little else in the way of automation of engineering, apart from guns.

"Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"

Had they been spotted when their spacecraft crashed in the Forbidden Zone, the three surviving astronauts would almost certainly have caused an instant sensation. However, Taylor (Charlton Heston), Landon (Robert Gunner) and Dodge (Jeff Burton) crash unseen and manage to drag themselves across a barren desert into a green belt where they find a race of mute, human-like creatures that are primitive and primordial. Convinced they will soon run this planet due to their obvious superiority, they are overwhelmed by the horse-backed arrival of the rulers of the planet - the apes.

Capturing two of the travelers and killing the other, the apes hand the pair over to the scientists, where they are placed in the care of Drs. Zira and Cornelius. Stull mute from being shot in the throat during the raid, Taylor makes an impression on Zira who singles him out for further investigation.

Eventually, his voice returns and the apes are unable to believe that he can speak, is obviously more intelligent than normal humans, but would appear to be just as aggressive and violent. When the head orangutan, Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans), learns of Taylor’s existence, he sets about to destroy all trace of him before the truth can be exposed, a truth that will rock the ape world.

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The oldest site gag in the book.

When Taylor is assigned for sterilisation and a lobotomy, he escapes with the aid of Zira and Cornelius, then heads into the Forbidden Zone with Nova (Linda Harrison), a leggy brunette he has taken a shine to (and one who can’t nag him). With Zira and Cornelius in tow, themselves the subject of heresy charges for their work and beliefs, the band of fugitives find an archeological dig that threatens to expose the truth that, on this planet, humans were here first, and the apes evolved from them.

When Zaius and the military arrive at the dig, the fugitives are trapped, yet find irrefutable proof that humans did in fact exist first. But the question remains – where exactly is ‘here’? Taylor finds the answer, but it is not a happy ending, and the final scene remains one of the more memorable moments in movie-making history.

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"I have a note from my Mum."

This is ‘60s sci-fi at its best. Although filmed on a modest budget, the money was wisely spent. The cast was headed by Hollywood legend Charlton Heston, with Kim Novak and Roddy McDowall (who would go on to play an ape for the next ten years), and was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, a respected television director who went on to helm films such as Patton, Papillon and The Boys From Brazil. The crew included prosthetic and makeup experts responsible for ensuring that the cast did not ponce around like actors in masks. The Academy Award is proof that they succeeded admirably.

The film has numerous political and social messages such as class divisions, war and genocide, racism and slavery amongst others and, above all that, it's a bloody good action romp at the same time. The film was a box-office success that spawned four sequels, a short-lived television series, an animated series, a chain of merchandise that marketers can be proud of and a mega-bucks remake that, well, failed to recapture the magic of the original.

At last, Planet of the Apes has been released on DVD as a two-disc set that does the film justice.


There seems to be little in the way of improvement since the last DVD release of this title, which is not all bad as that was a fair to good looking transfer. The image is again in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16:9 enhanced. Colour-wise things look quite good, with a few slight fluctuations in some scenes, and there is still evidence of noise. Grain is present from time to time, while skin tones are good.

The level of sharpness of the image tends to fluctuate, but in general is quite good. Black levels are also pretty solid and consistent and shadow detail is likewise generally good. Film artefacts are regular, but minor, and consist of such things as dirt, dust, the odd scratch, some white specks and a small black blob or two.

The only other niggling problem is some very minor edge enhancement that few will notice. The layer change is well placed between scenes.


Since the previous release there has been the addition of a DTS 5.1 track but, in all honesty, there is little to be gained by it. There is little to distinguish it from the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which offers little more than a stereo-sounding track. Surround activity is extremely limited and even the standout musical score fails to make great use of the surrounds or subwoofer.

There are no real problems with such things as fidelity or volume, while all dialogue is audible and mostly well synchronised, but there is evidence of post production dubbing of some dialogue. Even the actors under their heavy ape makeup present no issues. While this fails to be crystal clear with deep resonating low-level sounds that a recent production might have, it is nonetheless a decent transfer that does the job admirably.


Now this is where the real additions have been made in the way of extras that will take you some hours to get through. Although somewhat repetitive after a while, they are still worth it all the same.

There are two audio commentaries but, quite frankly, neither are overly rewarding. The first from Jerry Goldsmith, composer of the music, offers some mildly interesting information although his commentary is sparse. The second commentary from deceased actors Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall, and makeup artist John Chambers, is likewise sparse. Little is to be learned really if you have watched all of the other extras first, as this commentary has been pieced together from other sources and is not a true commentary as such.

Lastly on Disc One, there is a Subtitle Commentary – Text Commentary by Eric Greene that starts at a great rate of knots throwing countless snippets of information at rapid pace, that begins to drop off as it progresses until it too seems to consist more of gaps than information.

Disc Two houses some gems, none more sparkling than the feature length Behind the Planet of the Apes that at over two hours is a monstrous wealth of information about the whole Apes phenomenon. Hosted by Roddy McDowall, it includes input from the lead cast and crew, archival footage from all the films and series, as well as a detailed analysis of the film's themes and messages. It includes a layer change, and will be of great interest to any Apes fan. It even comes with its own trailer!

A small piece of movie history is provided by the inclusion of Makeup Test with Edward G. Robinson (1966). Yes, Edward G. was the first choice to play Dr. Zaius until he realised that it would be too demanding for him. This ten-minute inclusion is the low budget taster that was presented to the studio big wigs who wanted a pre-financial commitment, sneak preview of what the final product might look like. It seems they liked what they saw, for the rest, as they say, is history.

There's also 20 minutes of footage entitled Roddy McDowall Home Movies. It is basically a behind the scenes look at such things as McDowall being made up to be Cornelius.

Of similar length are Planet of the Apes Dailies and Outtakes (No Audio), that is not overly inspiring. It lacks audio as warned, and provides little in the way of an extra look at the making of the film.

Ever wanted to watch this film condensed to about ten minutes? Now you can in Planet of the Apes (1967 N.A.T.O. Presentation) that was designed to garner the interest of the theatre owners and encourage them to play the film in their cinemas.

Planet of the Apes Featurette offers little new in its four and half minutes and is pretty much a lengthy, narrated advert for the film.

A Look Behind the Planet of the Apes(1972) is a 13-minute featurette from 1972 that, naturally enough, takes a quick look at the development of the plots that became the sequels.

Don Taylor Directs Escape from the Planet of the Apes takes an eight-minute look at the third film in the series as directed by former actor Don Taylor. It is interesting, but not the best looking featurette included. Even shorter at just over a minute, though of a similar theme, is J. Lee Thompson Directs Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

If you want a sneak preview of the entire series, then the Original Theatre Trailers are for you, offering grainy and artefact-ridden previews of all the films in the series, plus a lengthy Teaser Trailer for the first in the series.

Enjoy a spot of reading by way of two text-only Film Reviews that each offer a detailed and analytical expose of the film.

There are also some Theatrical Posters from around the world.

The obligatory Galleries are included, but are a little different at least. The original costume sketch gallery is quite interesting, and the publicity stills have some nice behind the scenes shots and actors in and out of makeup.

Lastly, the Ape Phenomenon shows just how crazy the whole Apes thing was, with shots of just some of the merchandise and collectables that were made to go with the film - an idea that has become standard practice today.


Planet of the Apes is indeed a great film. From its subtle and not so subtle social commentary to its pure escapist entertainment, there is something for everyone. With a great soundtrack, groundbreaking makeup and now on DVD with a shedload of extras, there is every reason to add this to your collection.

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