Friday 10 May 2024

The Planet of the Apes: A Milestone in Science Fiction | ARTE TV

Planet of the Apes – An Historical Retrospective

On the day that Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes hits the cinema screens, a retrospective from ARTE TV asks,

What would happen if the primates took over? Since the first film was released in 1968, the Planet of the Apes franchise has asked questions of contemporary society through the prism of an audacious sci-fi story.

A cinematic history that serves to illustrate the role that cinema itself can and has played in the shaping of history, particularly that of the latter half of the twentieth century. Through all of its instalments, Planet of the Apes has carved out a place for itself as a social and cultural phenomenon, a story that has embedded itself in the human conscience, acting as a beacon and a clarion call for a world without war, inhumanity, injustice.

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Pierre Boulle (1912-1994): Creator of The Planet of the Apes

Pierre Boulle (1912-1994)

– Creator of the Planet of the Apes –

Pierre Boulle.jpg
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Pierre Boulle, novelist and short story writer, was born on this day in Avignon, France, in 1912.

An engineer by profession, who worked as a technician on British rubber plantations in Malaya during the 1930s, he joined the Free French Forces under Charles de Gaulle upon the outbreak of World War II. He worked with resistance movements in China, Burma, French Indochina until his capture, in 1943, by Vichy France loyalists on the Mekong River. He was imprisoned and subjected to severe hardship and forced labour, which he would later write about in the form of a highly successful autobiographical novel, Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai.

After the war, Boulle resumed his previous occupation for a time but, by 1949, had returned to his native France, living in Paris where he sought to make a name for himself as a writer. The success of his literary output is overshadowed only by the success achieved by adaptations of his work for cinema. Today, his reputation rest chiefly on two works, The Bridge over the River Kwai (first published in French, in 1952, as Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai) and Planet of the Apes (first published in French, in 1963, as La Planète des singes), both of which were made into award-winning films by Hollywood studios.

The Bridge on the River Kwai poster.jpg
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The Bridge on the River Kwai (as the film adaptation was called) garnered considerable success, winning seven Academy Awards in 1958. However, this was to prove a mere precursor to the sensation that Planet of the Apes would become – and to the surprise of no one more than Boulle himself, who puzzled over how the book could ever be adapted to the format demanded by cinema and, in any case, apparently considered the novel to be one of his lesser works. The idea is said to have originated with a trip to the zoo, watching and observing how animals and primates in particular, behaved.

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The screenplay for the motion picture deviates in many respects from the novel yet, retains all of the essential elements, including what The Guardian newspaper described as "classic science fiction ... full of suspense and satirical intelligence", in its review of the novel when it first appeared.

The planet in the novel is a different planet to Earth although, the ending is not without a wry, sardonic twist, emulated only by the climactic finale evoked by Rod Serling and Charlton Heston in the film adaptation. Furthermore, the apes whom the astronauts from present-day Earth encounter, inhabit a civilised milieu though, one that is not without contradictions, including a certain capacity for casual cruelty.

Pierre Boulle died in Paris, France on 30 January 1994, aged 81. His total literary output amounts to some 30 novels and short story collections. A website dedicated to his life and work is operated by «Les amis de l'œuvre de Pierre Boulle».

Thursday 8 February 2018

Planets of the Apes Re-Booted: meet the new site (same as the old site)

Planets of the Apes Re-Booted

– meet the new site (same as the old site) –

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So, how does one mark an occasion like the 50th anniversary of Planet of the Apes?

We are talking here about the motion picture format, of course. The original concept is a few years older and for that, we are forever indebted to French novelist, Pierre Boulle (1912-1994). Still, it was a shrewd move on the part of Hollywood executives not to call it Monkey Planet! That would never have caught on – or would it?

50 years is not all that long a period of time when you think about it. Some might even say that life begins at fifty. Others might say that such people are perpetual optimists or even, hopefully delusional! Nevertheless, it has been proven (in quite recent times too) that it is possible to successfully re-invent a classic – even breathe new life into it – as long as one does so by remaining true to the original intent, without necessarily being in thrall to it.

For ourselves – custodians of website dedicated to exploring the worlds of Planet of the Apes, from its original incarnation through all of the re-inventions and re-interpretations that have followed – the best way that we can mark this auspicious milestone is with a re-boot of our own. Thus, we present to you (our readers), our new website, which, to all intents and purposes, is much the same as our old website except that, the old one was falling apart – a veritable madhouse, a madhouse, we tell ya but let's not get into all that.

We hope that you enjoy the new incarnation, for however long it remains and that you will visit regularly. There is no telling what the future may hold but, we do look forward to bringing you regularly updated content, about all matters pertaining to the cultural icon that has teased, provoked and delighted people for more than half a century.

Sunday 14 September 2014

A New Dawn for the Planet of the Apes Sagas

A New Dawn for the Planet of the Apes Sagas

Vote in our Online Poll for Your Favourite Planet of the Apes
– Chance to win a Stunning Movie Poster Collection –

Planet of the Apes Saga Poster Collection
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has proved the summer box office success story and deservedly so. While not without flaws, the story continues in the same vein of 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, charting new territory in the process. Rise... proved that it is possible to successfully re-invent a classic, doing so by staying true to the original intent, without necessarily being in thrall to it. This contrasts with 2001 're-imagining', which seemed to be too obsessed with the fantasy elements, ignoring the allegorical basis of the saga that is, Planet of the Apes.

A valid criticism of Dawn... might be that it is unevenly paced. It starts with quite a bang, sags somewhere in the middle before picking up steam again as the viewer becomes aware that this is merely a middle act in a drama that promises much more to come.

Planet of the Apes Saga Poster Collection
Dawn... is set in and around San Francisco, ten years into a future, post-apocalyptic world where a deadly virus has devastated the human population of the planet. Only those who are genetically immune have survived. An ape and a human colony face each other down in a tense stand-off. Human civilisation has all but collapsed; ape civilisation is struggling to emerge. It seems that the human colony have come close to the brink; only a small nucleus of leaders are keeping the camp together. There are hints that a partial reversion to primitive savagery has taken place, as per the human population that Taylor et al encounter in the original series.

Planet of the Apes Saga Poster Collection
The humans pin their hopes on a disused hydro-electric dam that, unfortunately lies in Ape territory, where they have been warned not to set foot. The dilemma, therefore, is whether to attempt to negotiate with the apes or seek to force the issue by other means. The apes, for their part, know next to nothing about human technology but are deeply suspicious of human motive.

Caesar, whom we last saw in Rise..., has emerged as the leader of the ape community but faces increasing discord within his own ranks. When approached by the humans for help in rejuvenating the hydro-electric dam, he is initially reluctant but gradually accedes. When questioned why, he responds only that, "They seem so desperate." This leads to accusations, in the ape camp, that Caesar is soft on humans. What will happen when the humans are not so desperate, once they have regained their strength?
Planet of the Apes Saga Poster Collection

Caesar comes under increasing strain from his ape cohorts and later, comes to rue that he may have been naive in his belief about the innate 'goodness' of apes. He has, after all, spent most of his life among humans, to whom he was something of a 'pet'.

Similar to the way that Rise... carried tongue-in-cheek tributes to the original series, recycling some of the classic quotes from the original ("Get your damn dirty ape paws off of me" or "It's a madhouse, a madhouse, I tell ya") Dawn... continues to make allusions to the original series. For example, towards the end of Dawn..., we see the surviving humans fleeing the city. A few however, among those who form the leadership, appear resolved to fight on and take refuge in an underground subway. Sound familiar?

Planet of the Apes Saga Poster CollectionAt the same time, the new franchise has, to date at any rate, stuck to a strictly linear narrative. No mention of space travel or time warps yet. Indeed, one feature of the latest franchise would appear to be a determination to 'keep it real', relying more on science fact than science fiction. Even the special effects, particularly in Dawn..., convey a gritty and grim reality. This is one essential difference between the current rendering of the Planet of the Apes saga and Tim Burton's 2001 effort. The all-important air of 'plausbility' is maintained. Planet of the Apes, after all, is about 'holding up a mirror' for all humankind to see itself, asking the probing questions of where are we going? Is this what we are becoming? Is this what how we want to be seen?

The key pre-occupation of Dawn... seems to be that it is easier to start a war than to prevent one. It is hinted that the next instalment will probe the question further: whether it is possible to end a war once it has started. We can only wait and see.

Planet of the Apes Saga Poster Collection
While waiting to find out, we also have a very important question to put to fans of Planet of the Apes – the books, the films, the TV series, the entire franchise it has spawned. We want to know What is Your Favourite Planet of the Apes and to determine this question, we invite you to take part in our specially constructed Online Poll (see below). Simple as that.

As a special offer, we have free copies of Planet of the Apes Saga Poster Collection to give away, courtesy of Insight Editions. It features 40 stunning removable posters, capturing all the drama and action of the beloved movie saga, from the original classics to the latest re-invention in Rise... and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

It features exceptional stills and fantastic theatrical poster art from the original Planet of the Apes movie, starring Charlton Heston, as well as sequels such as Beneath the Planet of the Apes and Escape from the Planet of the Apes. This collection encompasses more than forty years of epic storytelling. It also captures the wonder of the incredible, Oscar-winning, special effects that brought the young chimpanzee, Caesar, to life in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Planet of the Apes Saga Poster Collection
Planet of the Apes Saga: The Poster Collection is the ultimate book for fans of the beloved science fiction saga. To be in with a chance to win one, all you have to do is to take part in our free Online Poll.

Unfortunately, due to shipping costs, prizes will only be dispatched to addresses within USA and Canada. Planet of the Apes fans living elsewhere are still welcome to take part in our Online Poll. In order to be in with a chance to win a copy of the Poster Collection, you will have to provide a valid address, which means finding someone in the USA or Canada who is kind enough to take delivery and kinder still to forward it to you - be warned, some people will be inclined to keep it for themselves once they see what an attractive publication it is!

So get voting now. The poll will remain open indefinitely but the closing date for entries for the Planet of the Apes Saga Poster Collection competition is Friday, 31 October, 2014. Three valid entries will be drawn at random. The judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Winners will be notified and results of the poll will be announced shortly thereafter. Best of luck!

Online Poll - Vote for Your Favourite Planet of the Apes

Images used here are reprinted from Planet of the Apes Saga: The Poster Collection, published by Insight Editions © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday 13 July 2014

A Cornelius Statuette in Search of a Collector

A Cornelius Statuette in Search of a Collector

A reader has been in touch with us enquiring about the collectibility of an "original planet of the apes Cornelius statue", of which he is the proud owner. Anyone with information or suggestions that they would like to pass on are free to get in touch. We will forward your message to the interested party.