Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Planet of the Apes (1968)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Planet of the Apes (1968)

In Franklin J. Schaffner's original, thought-provoking and engrossing sci-fi film of the long-running series, a twisting time-travel adventure with an effective, politically-charged message of social commentary - about a post-apocalyptic, post-nuclear futuristic planet (Earth) with evolved, highly-intelligent talking apes; the Vietnam War, Cold War and Civil Rights era film made many subtle points about race, animal rights, the establishment, class, xenophobia and discrimination; the film was most celebrated for its Oscar-winning make-up artistry of the civilized, evolved yet dictatorial ape-like creatures, and was a loose adaptation (by formerly blacklisted Michael Wilson and Rod Serling) of the Pierre Boulle novel La Planète Des Singes (Monkey Planet):

  • in the film's opening, a US spacecraft (with four NASA astronauts) launched in 1972, after a long flight of 18 months, crash-landed into a lake (and sank) on a strange, Earth-like, desolate planet on November 25, 3978, over two millennia after take-off; the astronauts had traveled for centuries in cyrogenic suspension and had aged by only 20 months; only three had survived the journey: Col. 'George' Taylor (Charlton Heston), Landon (Robert Gunner), and Dodge (Jeff Burton) [They didn't know that they had landed in an area later known as The Forbidden Zone.]
  • stranded American astronaut Taylor found himself with the other two astronauts and other primitive humans pursued in a cornfield by horse-back riding, armed and uniformed gorillas; Taylor was shot in the throat (damaging his throat's voice-box), Dodge was killed (and later placed as a display in a museum), and Landon was knocked unconscious and captured (and later subjected to a lobotomy)
  • once taken as prisoner, Taylor shockingly realized that the imprisoned and rounded-up caged humans (him included) were mute and inarticulate and could only grunt; he was paired up with a pretty captive, mute female primitive - soon after, he named her Nova (Linda Harrison)
  • the ape society appeared to be dominated by English-speaking simians who lived in a multi-layered civilization. Humans (who possessed few rights) had been reduced to primitive, subservient mute slaves and were even hunted as animals. The three layers of society included gorillas (enforcers, hunters and laborers), orangutans (gov't leaders, lawyers and religious figures), and chimpanzees (scientists and doctors). At the bottom were humans, considered feral animals (for experimentation and slave labor)
  • Taylor failed in his own attempt to escape when he found that he couldn't speak and explain himself to 'animal psychologist' Dr. Zira (Kim Hunter) (with her fiancee - archaeologist Dr. Cornelius (Roddy McDowall)) and malevolent, arrogant, government orangutan leader Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans); an assistant sarcastically noted: "You know what they say, 'Human See, Human Do'"; Zaius also commented: "Yes, amusing, a man acting like an ape!...He has a definite gift for mimicry"
  • Dr. Zira and Dr. Cornelius were intrigued that Taylor (now nicknamed "Bright Eyes" appeared to be a very intelligent, rational human who could speak (after his throat healed), read and write, and was possibly an evolved "missing link"; they intended to mate him with Nova
  • during Taylor's attempted escape in Ape City, he discovered a museum display or exhibit of a fellow astronaut - Dodge, now a stuffed and eyeless corpse; when he was finally caught in a net in the marketplace, Taylor delivered snarling and defiant insults toward the ruling apes, when he feared he would be castrated or lobotomized; he spoke for the first time: ("Take your stinkin' paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"); he also cried out when restrained and sprayed with a high-powered hose ("It's a madhouse!")
  • in a tribunal hearing in the National Ministry assembly hall to rule and decide on Taylor's fate, three orangutans assumed a "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" pose - imitating the wise monkeys of Japanese culture; although Dr. Zira and Dr. Cornelius tried to defend Taylor, their theory that Taylor came from a civilization predating the apes that lived in the Forbidden Zone was denounced as heresy
  • as he was aided in his rescue and flight from Ape City, by taking a journey to the Forbidden Zone where human artifacts had been dug up by Dr. Cornelius, Taylor offered an incredulous goodbye-kiss to sympathetic chimpanzee Dr. Zira: (Taylor: "Doctor, I'd like to kiss you goodbye" Dr. Zira: "All right, but you're so damned ugly")
  • when confronted by gorilla soldiers in an ape militia led by Dr. Zaius, the chief-of-state orangutan confirmed that there had been a cover-up for the masses about an ancient human civilization - the truth was that savage, murderous, war-like Earth dwellers had destroyed the planet, and he was fearful of humans' need to destroy each other: "I have always known about man. From the evidence, I believe his wisdom must walk hand in hand with his idiocy. His emotions must rule his brain. He must be a warlike creature who gives battle to everything around him, even himself...The Forbidden Zone was once a paradise. Your breed made a desert of it, ages ago"
  • in the startling, twist-surprise ending, as Taylor left the group to explore further into the out-of-bounds Forbidden Zone with Nova, he rode down a beach on horseback when he suddenly stopped, dismounted, and stared upwards
The Twist Surprise Ending
George Taylor on Horseback Riding Down a Beach Shoreline in the Forbidden Zone With Mute Nova

Dismounting, and Staring Upwards

"Oh, my God. I'm back. I'm home. All the time, it was..."

"We finally really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! Goddamn you all to hell!"
  • as the camera panned toward Taylor, through a spiked object, he had two major reactions; he first exclaimed: "Oh, my God! I'm back, I'm home. All the time, it was...", but then he sank and dropped to his knees: "We finally really did it." He pounded his fist into the sand and railed against Earth's generations almost 2,000 years earlier that had destroyed his home planet's civilization with a devastating nuclear war - as Dr. Zaius had speculated; he uttered the film's final line of dialogue: "You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! Goddamn you all to hell!"
  • in a final shocking revelation, the full object came into view as the camera panned backward - it was the spiked crown of a battered Statue of Liberty that was buried waist-deep in beach sand, signifying that Taylor was still on Earth!
  • the end title credits played without musical accompaniment; the only sound was the ever-present rhythmic waves pounding the shore


Humans, Including Taylor, Hunted by Gorillas

Taylor Struggling to Speak

Stuffed Corpse of Astronaut Dodge - A Museum Display

"Take your stinkin' paws off me..."

"It's a madhouse!"

"See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil"

Kiss with Dr. Zira

Dr. Zaius' Confirmation of Humans' Destructiveness


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