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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Planet of the Apes: Book/Movie Comparisons

This moment actually made it into the movie. Cool, I guess.

So, I’m back with a post that hopefully won’t be too long. When I went into reading the book for the first time, I was kind of amazed at how much the movie stuck to the overall story. I also saw snippets of the later movies in the book. For example, Escape from the Planet of the Apes shares similarities to the original book. The biggest examples are the tests the main characters are put through and the speeches they give to the public. Some of the things about what happened to humanity on Soror kind of match up with things that happened in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

The overall story of the book matches up with the movie. Planet of the Apes is essentially about a group of astronauts who land on a planet inhabited by talking apes and animal-like humans. The astronauts get their equipment destroyed by the humans. One astronaut dies in the gorillas’ hunt while the other astronaut loses his speech and reason. The main character is caged and paired with a mate named Nova. Zaius is more or less the antagonist of the story. Cornelius and Zira are two chimps who help the main character and Nova escape from Ape City. They also come across a archeological site that houses artifacts from a long-dead human civilization. Finally, the stories also end on some dark/weird twist ending that leaves the main character befuddled.

Other than those major things, changes were made to some things. Even though I like the novel, there’s a part of me that thinks that some changes needed to be made for the movie. While I could talk about all of the changes, I’ll center on five things: the technology, Zaius, Ulysse/Taylor, the themes, and the ending.

Technology
In the book, the apes are pretty advanced on the planet of Soror. They have cars, planes, and possibly trains. They are about as advanced as we were in the 1950’s. They even launched some manned (literally) satellites into space. The apes in the movie don’t have that at all. Their living is pretty primitive. All they have is horses, carriages, and scrolls. Strangely, they have guns and not the musket type either. I would guess their living arrangements are close to standards in the 18th-19th century.
No trains, cars, and planes? Eh... I guess it's okay.

The ship the astronauts traveled in was actually pretty advanced in the book as well. They stayed awake the whole trip to Soror instead of being asleep for the whole trip. The ship is described as being pretty advanced. It even has some robots and a place for food as well. It actually kind of reminds of something like the Serenity from Firefly. The reason everything was toned down in the movie tech-wise was because the budget wouldn’t allow it. They had a budget of about $5,800,000, so they couldn’t go too far. I wonder what they would have done with just a few more million.


Zaius
Oh, Doctor Zaius!

Zaius’s role in the book is pretty minimal. He’s pretty much the doubter to Ulysse’s claims of intelligence. While he does pose a threat towards the end to Ulysse’s and Nova’s child, we really don’t see much of him. In the movie, Zaius’s role is lengthened and he is pretty much the main antagonist of the story. He’s pretty hostile towards humanity in general. One of his first lines about humans is that they’re a nuisance and that they should be exterminated. While the Lawgiver’s scrolls are a reason for his hatred, he also has another reason to hate humanity. He knows that humanity was there before the apes and that they (or at least some jackasses with goals of nuclear destruction) caused the Forbidden Zone to become desolate. He may be a hypocritical butthead, but at least he has reasons.


Ulysse/Taylor
And here we have the last civilized human... could have been worse. At least it isn't Kanye West!

While the main characters go through some of the same things, they are completely different. Ulysse is a journalist and he’s astounded by all that he sees. He’s less of “a man’s man.”  He actually doesn’t have it bad like Taylor did. When he eventually spoke, he didn’t get blasted as an abomination. He was treated pretty decently. He even tried to teach other humans (especially Nova) how to speak. The man even got lucky with Nova though that could be seen as a little weird. She’s essentially an animal albeit a kind of hot animal. Ulysse doesn’t get to turn into a “man of action” like Taylor does. The most action he gets is during the hunt… and with Nova (tee hee).

On the other hand, Taylor is a man’s man. He’s definitely an alpha male that gets into fights and argues with folk. The movie is more action-packed than the book anyway and it works for the movie. He seems to be a mixture of Ulysse and Professor Antelle from the novel. Antelle was a scientist who was pretty fed up with humanity a lot like Taylor was. I can’t blame Taylor for being a little crazed. He got shot, burned, and humiliated. Worst, he almost gets castrated. At least he has Nova in her “Sheena” gear. If I had to choose the more interesting character, I might actually choose Taylor instead of Ulysse.


The Themes
The themes in the movie are as about the same in the movie. The theme of animal rights gets brought up. Even the thought of whether the humans actually have a soul gets brought up. Politics and issues of races are brought up in both mediums as well. One thing that doesn’t get brought up much in the movie is the “stranger in a strange land” theme. The book definitely expands on that end since Ulysse didn’t have it as bad as Taylor did. Ulysse lived among the apes and studied their ways and language. Taylor really didn’t get that luxury because he was pretty much dead the moment he spoke.
No themes here. Just a man with a gun.

Other things the book doesn’t bring up much are themes like religion and the evolution vs. creation debate. The whole debate of whether apes evolved from humans kind of becomes a thing in the latter half of the movie. The apes’ religion is brought up here as well. Zaius uses their religion and science (Defender of the Faith and Minister of Science, remember?) to cover up a lot especially at the end. To him, he’s trying to keep the status quo of everything. Too bad that didn’t help in the second movie with all of the mutant humans that worshiped the “Almighty Bomb.”


The Ending

Finally, there’s the ending. As I said before, the ending befuddles the main characters. It also makes one of them quote one of the most popular lines ever. I don’t think Ulysse’s “It was a gorilla” ever took off though I could be wrong. The endings themselves are vastly different from one another. The movie ends with Taylor finding out that the planet he landed on is actually a nuclear-ravaged Earth. The book, or at least Ulysse’s story, ends with him landing in Paris and finding out that the stuff that happened on Soror has happened on Earth.

The movie’s ending is actually a pretty powerful one. I saw it when I was younger and it really never occurred to me why Taylor lost his mind at the end. He’s mad that his people ultimately ended the world. The ending is definitely an anti-war message. It was also pretty foreshadowed in the movie but not by much. While it’s not as powerful, the ending to the book is still good. That ending is also foreshadowed in a way especially when we find out what happened to humanity on Soror. They simply got lazy and it bit them in the butt. I will say that it’s weird that it took 700 years for Earth to go bananas.

While I’m here, I might as well tear the 2001 reboot up a bit. As I said way back when, that movie was okay. It wasn’t really good, but it wasn’t horrible. Then, that ending came. MC Marky Mark (I don’t remember his character’s name) lands on present-day Earth and it is inhabited by civilized Apes. Apparently, Thade did something in Earth’s past to make it so. Unlike the other endings, this just feels thrown in with no reason. The ending makes little sense with what was in the movie and it just feels like a twist ending for the sake of a twist ending. It’s the worst kind of sequel-bait. It also makes a kind of decent movie end smell like bad tuna at the end.
Excuse my French, but "Who in the bucket-drinkin' Hades thought this was a good idea?"

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So, there’s my long, in-depth thing on the changes. As to which one is better, I really can't say. The book and movie are both good in my opinion. They approach the story differently and they succeed in that. Well, it’s time for me to find my own Nova and go off somewhere. Peace and God Bless. Now excuse me while I listen to the sweet sounds of Doctor Zaius.

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