Sunday, 21 November 2010

Gorilla Warfare!

Early, early, early, memories of Planet of the Apes. Vague and gossamer. Images of the TV show blurred unrecognisably with the movies. A photo of a 4 year old at Selfridges with Urko and Cornelius standing either side. A photo I sadly no longer have.

Planet of the Apes must have had quite an effect on me. In the photo I look absolutely petrified as these two heavily made-up, ape-men tower menacingly over me, but I remember being resolute enough to go and stand next to them and have my photo taken, just for the kudos. Magical memories.
I have of course seen the quintology of the Planet of the Apes countless times from boy to man and know and love them like old friends. The 1974 TV show Im not as familiar with but seem to remember the protagonists being a sort of Starsky and Hutch - blonde, brunette - arrangement. Apparently the show was unpopular and cancelled in the States, but ran for its full series here in the UK and was shown again in 1994 by Channel 4.
So ingrained was Planet of the Apes in my head as a kid, that I distincly remember watching TV and hearing a report of guerilla warfare in Africa. Not being old enough to discern the word 'guerilla' from 'gorilla', I immedeately thought the Planet of the Apes scenario was now an inevitability. After much screaming and shouting and no small amount of fuss, my mum finally assured me that guerilla warfare was a very different thing from what I imagined.
The films make for good watching (some better than others), and even with todays special effects and make up there is still something magical about the original costumes that doesnt make them feel dated. Sure nit-pick if you must, but the handful of chimp faeces that Tim Burton threw in our faces in 2001 wont even be remembered in another 10 years time, when people will still be watching and enjoying the original films, not just for nostaglia reasons, but because they are good entertainment. Moments of special effects sewn loosely together with bad dialogue and wrapped in a horrendous plot are no substitute.
Here is one of my favourite lines from the original film:

Unfortunately, the final scene has become such a cliche it has lost all its power and gravitas. But try, if you can, to watch it as a member of an unsuspecting audience in a movie theatre, who is about to witness it for the very first time.
This is my seminal sci-fi moment No.2

Tune in to my next blog when we'll see what we all expected anyway.
Big D out.


  1. A worthy No.2. (Heh, I said "number two") The gorillas were always my favourites, badass! That Burton debacle was instantly forgetable. I agree, its not just nostalgia that makes this movie memorable, even by todays standards the make-up is good. Its all in the eyes, thanks to wee Roddy! And I must confess to quite fancying his girlfriend..!

    Dr Zaius, Dr Zaius.
    Dr Zaius.
    Oh Oh, Dr Zaius.
    Come on and rock me, Dr Zaius!


  2. The Apes series is also one of my childhood favourites, lord knows how many times I've watched the first film. But, please take the time to read the original novel by Pierre Boule, then you'll see how wide of the mark these films actually were. For example in the book the Apes have an advanced society, with cars and pl...anes, there's even a space program. It was dissapointing when Burton just remade the the original movie and didn't take the time to give us a proper adaptaion of Boule's work, with all the financial backing at his disposal this would not have been a problem.