90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Examining The Planet Of The Apes

We’re talking about Planet of the Apes, and the latest box office topper to rise.

 In this image released by Twentieth Century Fox, Caesar the chimp, a CG animal portrayed by Andy Serkis is shown in a scene from "Rise of the Planet of the Apes ." (AP)

In this image released by Twentieth Century Fox, Caesar the chimp, a CG animal portrayed by Andy Serkis is shown in a scene from "Rise of the Planet of the Apes ." (AP)

“Planet of the Apes” leapt from a French novel to the Hollywood screen in 1968, when Charlton Heston played an astronaut thrown onto an upside down planet where apes were in charge and humans were treated like dumb animals.

The premise instantly caught the public imagination. What if the power structure of life was reversed?

It spoke to guilt. It spoke to civil rights. It spoke to prehistoric fears.

Last weekend, the U.S. box office topper was a prequel -– “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

The old mojo is still working.

This hour On Point: confronting the planet of the apes.

-Tom Ashbrook


Paul Mullins, chair of the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. He teaches a class called “Popular Culture” in which he uses the Planet of the Apes series as course material.

Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, primatologist at Great Ape Trust, an organization dedicated to understanding ape language and cognition. Previously she spent 30 years at Georgia State University’s Language Research Center. She’s the first and only scientist to conduct language research with bonobos. Earlier this year she was recognized as one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Lewis Beale, features writer who writes frequently about the film industry. His article “’Planet of the Apes” Rises Again” was published in Newsday.

Rick Jaffa, writer and producer of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

From Tom’s Reading List:

The New York Times: “The evolution of species takes place over millenniums. Pop-culture franchises just don’t have that kind of time. Rupert Wyatt’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” opening Aug. 5, is the seventh film about the peculiarly advanced simians invented by Pierre Boulle in his 1963 novel “Planet of the Apes” and the first in 10 years.”

The Boston Globe: “It’s 1971 and I’m sitting in the old Sack Cheri theater near the Prudential Tower, watching “Escape From the Planet of the Apes,’’ the third in the five-film series kicked off by 1968’s “Planet of the Apes.’’ It’s not a great movie, but it’s good enough, and, anyway, I don’t care. I’m 13! Talking apes from the future! Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter in semi-convincing latex humanoid chimp makeup! Cheap early-’70s sci-fi apocalypse! Pass the Junior Mints.”

The Los Angeles Times: “”Rise of the Planet of the Apes” does it right. Smart, fun and thoroughly enjoyable, it’s a model summer diversion that entertains without insulting your intelligence. Adroitly blending the most modern technology with age-old story elements, it’s also an origin story that answers the question that’s been hanging in the air since 1968: How did it happen that apes rule?”

    The trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes

    This hour, we’ll hear:

    “Golden Gate Bridge” from Rise of the Apes

    “Main Title” from Planet of the Apes

    “Suite” from Escape from Planet of the Apes

    “Gen-Sys Freedom” from Rise of the Planet of the Apes

    Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
    • Michael

      Awesome movie.

    • paj

      Not what I want to hear about right now…

    • Christopher Noel from Vermont

      I think part of the appeal of this film stems from our separation from nature, our primordial human longing for a version of ourselves that is both US and MORE AUTHENTIC than us, larger, stronger, more animal, more embedded in the ancient reality of Earth.  This also accounts for the onging fascination with Bigfoot or Sasquatch, as seen in the millions tuning in to the new Animal Planet program, “Finding Bigfoot.” 

    • Brad in TX

      I watched the original with my 14 year old daughter Tuesday night. She was keenly interested. She really believed they were light years from earth. Only at the end, and she honestly didn’t know about the ending, did it become horrifically clear. She was left with jaw dropping in disbelief that man had blown up the world. The original was a cerebral event that kept one on the edge of their seat. Does “Rise” have that sense, or do we already know the outcome? 

      • Lilee1

        No, not even close to Rod Serling’s brilliant ending. It does tie its theme to the original nuclear mutation of the first by showing a pathogen spread like atomic missiles (stay after the credits go up  or you’ll miss it) but really, it’s no classic. It’s fun. It’s good enough to see. It’s not a boo-hiss for Ape fans but it’s not on the level of the original. And the “live capture” whatever that is, works, which I think would be a major concern for Ape fans. 

    • jim

      this is highly unlikely. however, it enhance our sci-fi curiosity. I am more worry about aliens visiting our planet.

    • Matthew

      I love the Planet of the Apes series and I’m interested in seeing this movie. Where does it fit in the “Planet of the Apes” universe canon?

      • Lilee1

        It’s not as good as the classic, maybe not as good at “Beneath” but better than the ones there after. It lacks the courage of the first two movies which showed cops beating protesters (Vietnam of that time) and the famed, see, hear say no evil. But rather than play on the fears of the 1960′s–nukes–it plays on the current pathogen fears of today. A 100 winks to Apes fans (a orangoutang named Maurice) in sometimes subtle ways that only Ape enthusiasts will get, but not a one that I caught to Roddy McDowall. 

    • Grandpadewey

      As a huge Apes fan from the 1970s (I bought all the books and the comic books. This includes the short lived TV series), this was just a rehash (Although very intelligently done) remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Read the books series!!!! They’re great fun. 

    • TFRX

      I’m missing the part where there could possibly be enough of these higher apes to seriously threaten mankind’s place on the food chain.

      A favorite Rod Serling theme (whether he wrote the screenplay or not) is mankind being its own worst enemy, with just minimal input from a non-human agent. Think “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”.

      • Dbianco74

        The numbers question is what prevents me from seeing this.

      • NYguy

        well i would hate to spoil how they would become a threat but lets just say they explain it.

    • caesar

      The story arc of the Planet of the Apes is intriguing. The concept about humans not being supreme is at the heart of the question. Other movies, such as Spielberg’s AI, Scott’s Blade Runner, and Cameron’s Terminator raise the bigger questions about whether human intelligence itself is achievable by non-human entities. In my mind, the race is already on, but not with genetically based life forms. Hint: With apologies to Matthew 5:5, the machines will inherit the earth.

    • Sosbrown

      I really wish you could have avoided excerpting the ending
      of the 1968 masterpiece..ugh

    • Bill

      Again art mirrors life – while intelligent apes is a bit of a stretch, one could wonder if there is a “Caesar” out there among those in the London riots?

      • Jbartlett09

        No, but there was a Ceaser in Rome who was assassinated according to popular belief and the Flavians rose to power shortly after his demise. Joseph Flavian is credited by those in the know for writing the first four books of the New Testament. And here the mirror is Ceasers military conquests and Jesus ministry. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

    • Dave in CT

      Why is there a photo of GW getting a reassuring hug from Cheney in the lead picture here?

      Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    • Bgaidry

      I think Apes have a lot to teach us about what we humans lost since we started living apart FROM the world instead of a part OF the world. I will definitely go see this movie now. I also recommend the movie “Instinct”. For another enlightening Ape’s eye view on humanity read “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn.

      • Rmidwest

        It seems the number of comments is in the hundreds on these boards when the subject is about politics and/or money – especially money. This shows how much apart from the world humans really are.

    • ElfmanNW

      Sigh!  No Roddy McDowell finally first revealing he can speak, “Have mercy!,” under torture.  And no final line, “Now begins the Planet of the Apes.”  I guess I should not dismiss this unseen, but I am getting weary of remakes that have nothing new to offer beyond enhanced CGI and special effects.

      • barent johnson

        oh yea, with lack of imagination,let the CGI gods spark some sense, in the terminally unimaginative posters, such as this, doleful, pedestrian observer. the spirit of roddy lives……..!

    • GLH

      Shame on Hollywood for recycling old crypto-racist properties again and again for the profit to copyright holders and to brainwash another debased generation. Every travesty like “Apes” displaces thousands of new original creative works that deserve exposure. In denial and stuck in the past, it’s killing our spirits and our prospects. Don’t pay for crap.

      • barent johnson

        i have no idea, what in blue blazes you are talking about!? sounds as if your thought process, is in  an alternate universe…

      • Jbartlett09

        That fact that the chimps name is Ceaser is proof enough that this is maggot meal for the brainwashed masses. The Egyptian doctors and the jewish slaves.

    • Brett

      “Damn you On Point, damn you all to hell!”

    • Gwatko

      The thing that’s missing in all these conversations is that chimps are endangered.

      • barent johnson

        yes,no doubt,but i think,the only ones that don’t know that chimps are endangered, are either too young for this conversation, or too emotionally stunted, to understand or care anyway.

    • Eefore

      In Gulliver’s Travels by Swift the horses are noble civilized creatures and humans are wild savage ‘yahoos’. In Sirius by Olaf Stapledon a dog is made intelligent and hunted down by the townspeople as a freak, ala Frankenstein

    • Pingback: ape | karatekidwallpapers.com

    • Joanhouli

      Patric Houlihan has done an outstanding job on the music.  The Best.

    Jul 22, 2014
    Smoke rises after an Israeli shelling at the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, Monday, July 21, 2014. The top Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip signaled Monday that the Islamic militant group will not agree to an unconditional cease-fire with Israel, while Israel's defense minister pledged to keep fighting "as long as necessary," raising new doubt about the highest-level mediation mission in two weeks. (AP)

    The escalated Gaza offensive. We’ll get the views from both sides and the latest developments.

    Jul 22, 2014
    Lt. Col. James Howard Williams, aka "Elephant Bill," is the hero of Vicki Constantine Croke's new book, "Elephant Company." (Courtesy Random House)

    We’ll travel to the jungles of Burma for the remarkable true story of Billy Williams—aka “the elephant whisperer”—and his World War II heroism.

    Jul 21, 2014
    In this May 15, 2014, file photo, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, during a committee hearing to examine the state of Veterans Affairs health care. (AP)

    Will he run for president? We’ll ask Vermont’s Independent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.

    Jul 21, 2014
    Toys and flowers are placed on the charred fuselage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP)

    The United States and Russia after the downed plane. We’ll unpack the politics and latest news. Plus: the latest from Gaza.

    On Point Blog
    On Point Blog
    Our Week In The Web: July 11, 2014
    Friday, Jul 11, 2014

    As we prepare for a week of rebroadcasts, we reflect on Facebook posts, misplaced comments and the magic of @ mentions. Internet, ASSEMBLE!

    More »
    Two Former Senators, One Fix For US Democracy?
    Thursday, Jul 10, 2014

    Former US Senators Tom Daschle and Olympia Snowe joined us today with a few fixes for American political inaction.

    More »
    Future Radio Interns Of America: On Point Wants YOU!
    Thursday, Jul 10, 2014

    On Point needs interns for the fall. Could YOU be one of them?

    More »