I went to see this movie in 1968 when it first came out with my aunt. I did not pay too much attention to it. I thought all those costumes were silly. After the movie, then came all the Planet of the Apes dolls, games, clothes, etc. I was sick of it.
It was not until graduate school, in the mid-1980’s, that I began to take serious notice of this movie. Back in those days, Channel 13 in Houston used to have the afternoon movie, the late movie, and the late late movie. It was also the beginning of cable television on the mass market, so there were lots of opportunities to see this movie.
It began to occur to me that, once you got past all the goofy makeup, there was a serious plot to this film. For the quotation that I selected, if you change the phrase “Back on Earth” to “Back on [any location]”, then the phrase is really timeless.
The movie is taken from the novel by the same name, written by Pierre Boulle. The writer for the movie script is Michael Wilson. Wilson is an interesting fellow. He was born and raised Roman Catholic in McAlester, Oklahoma. I stopped in McAlester on my way back from Minnesota once. No one knew him. When I told them he was Catholic, they said “What? A Catholic in McAlester?.” Later, Wilson graduated with a degree in Philosophy from UC Berkeley.
Wilson was also blacklisted in Hollywood for being a communist. He wrote the scripts for Planet of the Apes, Bridge over the River Kwai, and Lawrence of Arabia, all without credit until recently – now that he is dead.
I am afraid that Wilson has faded into history. I wish so badly that I had the chance to meet him. Of the three movies that I mention above, I have seen them all many times. I also read all three of the novels associated with the movies. When I compare the movies to the novels, I think to myself, “What a complicated man”. I can barely find any information on his life, not even a biography. When great men like this are forgotten so easily, it makes me wonder. What is life all about?
In the scene below, Astronaut Taylor has just tried to escape from the apes. He is thrown in a holding cell across the aisle from Nova, the savage and mute woman. Now that he is alone, he turns to her and she cannot understand a word he is saying.
Now I don’t even have you. Imagine me needing someone? Back on Earth I never did. Oh there were women, lots of women; lots of love making, but no love. That was the kind of world we had made. So I left, because there was no one to hold me there. . . . . Do you love me, I wonder? Can you love, I wonder? — Movie Planet of the Apes, 1968