Planet of the Apes, the 35th Anniversary Edition,
20th Century Fox has pulled out all the stops with its DVD
re-release of "Planet of the Apes." It only includes the first of the five
films, but thats okay. The first was by far the best, and this new
release has received the THX digital mastering treatment and best of all
its now presented in anamorphic widescreen so owners of 16x9 aspect ratio
TVs can finally enjoy it the way it should be seen.
Fox has also thrown in a very interesting two hour documentary
that was previously available on a separate disc with the boxed set.
The movie was based on the book "Monkey Planet" by French author
Pierre Boulle, though his book actually took place on a planet orbiting the
star Betelgeuse and wasnt on Earth at all though he put in a
terrific gotcha ending that was exploited in the remake.
" Planet of the Apes" (112 minutes) caused a stir on its release
in 1968, and not only for its outstanding ape makeup and terrific twist ending.
As did Star Trek, the film used science fiction to not only spin a good yarn,
but to make more than its share of social commentary.
Charlton Heston stars as astronaut Taylor who, with the surviving
members of his crew, is thrown into a world turned upside down, yet one that
had a lot of the same problems his/our world did at the time. The excellent
cast also includes Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter as the chimpanzees Cornelius
and Zira, two compassionate apes who befriend Taylor and nearly lose everything
because of it. Maurice Evans plays Dr. Zaius, their chief nemesis, and newcomer
Linda Harrison, perfectly cast as the primitive human who gives Taylor a chance
to show some of the humanity he lacked at the films opening.
Its a good yarn, though there's more than its share of
silliness, too. For example, when the three astronauts are searching for life
that can sustain them on their new home, they discover a solitary plant growing
in the middle of nowhere. Overcome with joy, they come over to the plant and
DIG IT UP in a kind of worshipful ceremony. Huh? Maybe we missed something, but
isnt digging it up the worst thing they could do to celebrate a
Later, during Taylor's trial, the ape tribunal resorts to the
famous "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" pose. This, according to the
documentary "Behind the Planet of the Apes" (the sixth disc) was added after
director Franklin J. Shaffner asked his peers what they thought about it.
Anyway, the movie's a legitimate science fiction classic and it's
nice to see a movie that has something to say and says it well whether you
agree with it or not.
Too bad its new age liberal dogma hasn't stood the test of time.
The THX-certified DVD is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic
widescreen (16x9 TV compatible), and the audio is offered in Dolby Digital
5.1and dts surround. There isnt a lot of surround use, but the soundtrack
is actually pretty good for a film this age. Video quality is excellent, very
sharp and colorful.
This two disc set also includes enough extras to choke a horse,
including two commentaries. The first is by composer Jerry Goldsmith, with the
second one featuring actors Roddy McDowall, Natalie Trundy, and Kim Hunter,
producer Richard Zanuck, and make-up artist John Chambers. A third, text-based
commentary is by Eric Greene, author of Planet of the Apes as American
Then theres a promo for the documentary Behind the
Planet of the Apes, a makeup test with Edward G. Robinson from 1966,
Roddy McDowall home movies, dailies and outtakes (with no audio, alas), and a
1967 NATO presentation on the film.
And that isnt it. You also get a 1968 featurette, a 1972
Look behind and a whole bunch of other stuff including ape
merchandise from the years when the series (movie and TV) was a phenomenon.
If you avoided buying the first DVD release, be glad. This one,
for its use of anamorphic widescreen and additional soundtrack choices, is
definitely the one to get. We hate the package, which makes it very difficult
to put back together again once youve opened it, but the discs inside are
Planet of the Apes, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
112 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital 5.1
and dts surround audio
Starring Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowell, Kim
Hunter, Maurice Evans
Produced by Arthur P. Jacobs
Written by Michael
Wilson and Rod Serling, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think