The Planet Of The Apes Films – Part 4 of 8: Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes (1972)

The early nineties, roughly twenty years after the events of the previous movie.

We open in a world where a virus from outer space has killed off all Earth’s domestic pets. Apes at first were bought into replace them as members of families. Eventually becoming servants.

After being in hiding all this time – Caesar – the orphaned son of Cornelius and Zira has emerged. In hiding ever since his parents’ murder – he has been raised by Senor Armando (Ricardo Montalben) at his circus.

The world has become a police state. Fearing that the prophesied future could STILL somehow come true – all ape activity is keenly monitored.

After Caesar almost blows their cover – Armando is questioned and dies whilst attempting to protect Caesar’s secret.

When an enraged Caesar learns of this – he puts a plan of revolution into action.

It really amuses me how much these movies take a pop at the human race. The idea that they’d turn much loved pets into servants if they could. That this would be the only potential they see for development. Sad thing as, as is the case with these movies – it’s probably true on many levels.

It’s genuinely upsetting to see how the apes are treated at the start of this movie. Highlighting one of the least appealing aspects of Human nature. Caesar’s distress at this is understandable.

J. Lee Thompson’s movie takes the series into a different realm of sci-fi. Whilst the first three dealt with time travel and it’s implications – this film tells a more Orwellian kind of story. A story of oppression and uprising in a totalitarian state. It’s a refreshing change of thematic content and takes things into a very intriguing new direction.

Also it rather ingeniously establishes a time loop. Caesar is the son of the two apes who came from the future. He is also the fabled ape who leads the simian uprising of legend. The uprising that eventually created the world that Taylor landed on in the first movie!

A narrative Ouroboros worm. It’s actually quite brilliant! I can see how this influenced James Cameron’s Terminator movies which employ a similar plot device.

Roddy McDowell plays Caesar here. McDowell also played Cornelius in the first and third movies. His performance is excellent. One thing I noticed about him is that he has very expressive eyes and they do a lot of the work through the layers of his prosthetic mask.

I especially enjoyed the scene where he actually chooses the name Caesar for himself. When he’s told it’s the name of a king there is a defiance and cunning in his eyes. McDowell truly was a talented actor.

When Caesar finally leads his simian brothers into revolution – it makes for a cathartic and surprisingly violent climax.

Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes is a tense sci-fi thriller and I recommend it.

The Man Who Saved Movies. Where there is fire, there is smoke. And in that smoke, from this day forward, my people will crouch and conspire and plot and plan for the inevitable day of Man’s downfall – the day when he finally and self-destructively turns his weapons against his own kind. The day of the writing in the sky, when your cities lie buried under radioactive rubble! When the sea is a dead sea, and the land is a wasteland out of which I will lead my people from their captivity! And we will build our own cities in which there will be no place for humans except to serve our ends! And we shall found our own armies, our own religion, our own dynasty! And that day is upon you… now!

  • DeeHolidayAccount

    My favorite after the original.

  • DeeHolidayAccount

    Excellent review.

  • Mistah Doe

    Great review Stu however, there’s one important subtext you may have overlooked; the sequel’s narrative was inspired by the civil rights era primarily when it came to black revolutionists who struggled against racial oppression be it the United States, South Africa or England. It was great to see McDowell as a reprised character and Caesar was a badass indeed. the exchange with the black character played by Hari Rhodes was one of the many highlights of this film.Ceasar wasn’t a power driven madman but one who fought against oppression , won and agreed to rule with compassion and understanding. Very fair character study IMO. Shit, I need to rewatch this again and I highly recommend the extended version.

    • “the sequel’s narrative was inspired by the civil rights era primarily when it came to black revolutionists who struggled against racial oppression be it the United States, South Africa or England”

      It’s not that I overlooked it – I was just drawn more to the Orwellian aspect of the story than anything else.
      Still – you do make a valid point.

      • Mistah Doe

        Just curious Bro, have you seen the documentary: Beyond the Planet of the Apes? Its a great retrospective of the series. I hope you avoided both the TV spinoff series of POTA
        as well as the wretched cartoon series.

        • No I’ve not seen that doc. Unless its on the blu ray and I watched it and can’t remember…
          Not seen the TV 📺 spin off or the cartoon.

  • WALKER TEXAS AIDS MACHINE

    This one is a step up from Escape (barely). Did you see the extended cut or the original? I haven’t seen the new one, but heard it’s solid.

    Before you mash together your thoughts on Battle, here’s an interesting take on it from John “Mistakes Were Made” Landis, who actually was in it.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=d_FFlLeh5nM

    Also, consider a Bonus Features Part 9 where you explain your bleeding eyes after experiencing the live action TV series and cartoon.

  • The Magic Hunter

    Interesting stuff — reminds me of a little trilogy of movies that my people call… “The Matrix.”