The Planet Of The Apes Films – Part 3 of 8: Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (1971)
After the events of the previous movie Cornelius (Roddy McDowell), Zira (Kim Hunter) and Dr Milo (Sal Mineo) escape Earth’s destruction in Taylor’s spaceship. Encountering a time warp they arrive on Earth in 1973.
They are taken to a zoo and cared for by Dr Stephanie Branton and Dr Lewis Dixon. Zira eventually reveals that they can speak. Milo is killed by another gorilla at the zoo which greatly distresses Zira and Cornelius but Dixon is able to convince them that the humans mean no harm.
After a presidential commission the apes are embraced as celebrities, only revealing to Branton and Lewis the circumstances of what happened in their time and why they needed to escape.
The President’s Science Adviser Dr Otto Hasslien becomes concerned for the future of humanity when he discovers Zira is pregnant.
As more disturbing details of Earth’s future come to be revealed – Hasslien eventually calls for the apes to be executed. Branton and Lewis help them escape and arrange for them to be sheltered in a Circus run by Senor Armando (Ricardo Montalben).
Sadly, nothing can stop the tragic confrontation that’s about to occur.
Director Ted Post creates a fine film which makes a welcome return to exploring the themes of the original classic. It does so by flipping the events in reverse. Instead of humans crash landing on an Earth ruled by apes, apes crash land on an Earth ruled by humans.
What this means for humanity is deftly analysed – and results in some incredibly intelligent science fiction.
The message is still the same. By and large humans can be pretty worthless. Afraid of change and willing to go to despicable lengths to ensure their own survival.
It results in a heartbreaking ending which I found very difficult to watch as a kid, but that ending does set up an ingenious narrative strand to be explored in further sequels. More on that when the time comes.
Escape From The Planet Of The Apes is brainy and exciting science fiction – and is easily the best out of the original run of sequels.
The Man Who Saved Movies. They became alert to the concept of slavery. And, as their numbers grew, to slavery’s antidote which, of course, is unity. At first, they began assembling in small groups. They learned the art of corporate and militant action. They learned to refuse. At first, they just grunted their refusal. But then, on an historic day, which is commemorated by my species and fully documented in the sacred scrolls, there came Aldo. He did not grunt. He articulated. He spoke a word which had been spoken to him time without number by humans. He said ‘No.’ So that’s how it all started.