Better than the book? Planet of the Apes

Better than the book? Planet of the Apes

I’m about to head out with my Significant Other to see

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

the second movie in the second reboot of the movie series (there have also been a live action TV series and an animated series).

Am I a Planet of the Apes (PotA) fan?

Does watching all five movies of the first series in a row in a movie theatre count? 😉 Let me take that one step further…I did that…in an ape suit (with a Don Post mask).

I started writing a script (completely unsolicited) for the live action series, although it was canceled before I was finished. My script focused on a stereotype-busting intellectual gorilla…

However, it all started with a French novel:

Planet of the Apes (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The novel was published in 1963, and was followed five years later by the Roddy McDowell/Charlton Heston version which was most Americans first encounter with it (at least back then):

Planet Of The Apes (at AmazonSmile)

That version, by the way, is available at no additional cost as Prime streaming…along with its four direct sequels! Good way to have a good binge watch. 😉

Generally, people tend to think that a book is better than the adaptation of it, and that’s often the case. Part of it just has to do with the nature of the two media: you can put a lot more into a book than you can into a movie, and the special effects are largely unlimited. 😉

This is the rare one, though, where I would submit that the movie (the 1968 version) is better.

It’s not just a question of the translation (I thought the translation I read was quite good).

There are a lot of similarities between the movie and the book…it’s clearly based on it, even with some of the same characters (down to their names).

As regular readers know, I’m very careful about spoilers…and spoiling the 1968 PotA movies is one of the great offenses in that area, in my opinion (along with Psycho, The Sixth Sense…I would argue, even the 1939 Wizard of Oz).

I was not happy recently when a journalist did just that: spoiled PotA, and unnecessarily, in my opinion. They could have left five words out of their piece, and been fine.

The key thing here is that the book and the movie are…different in their ideas (and in their tones). The book is far more philosophical: it’s not intended to read as reality.

The movie is gritty. We are supposed to think it could be happening (given the willing suspension of disbelief about the premise)…that it could be real.

I’ll recommend the book to you: I do think it is worth reading, and it’s only $5.43 at time of writing.

However, I’m also going to recommend the 1968 movie to you…and I feel more confident that most people will enjoy the latter.

One reason for that may be that Rod Serling, of the original Twilight Zone series, co-wrote the script.

As to the other movies in the first series? Well, there’s a whole through story that’s quite interesting, and there are some notable scenes in all of them (one, in particular, has something to say about celebrity culture). Roddy McDowell is brilliant in all of them. 🙂

I think, though, they do belong squarely in the geek zone (which is where I live)…non-geeks are just not going to enjoy them as much. 😉

What do you think? Are you a PotA fan? What was your first exposure to it? Was it the Tim Burton version? Are there other movies which you think were better than their source material? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post…but no spoilers, please. 🙂

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


11 Responses to “Better than the book? Planet of the Apes”

  1. Tuli Reno Says:

    I love Planet of the Apes and am not ashamed of it. For some reason someone I know thought I should be. Thanks for the links to the movies. I’m not sure but I don’t think I have seen all of them. And thanks for the link to the book. I haven’t read it yet but will.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tuli!

      You should never be ashamed of anything legal you read or watch, for that matter. A person who uses “content shaming” may be doing so because enjoying the content would be something that they would personally do…but were told that it was a bad thing. For example, someone who was told to “Grow up!” might not read books that are defined as Young Adult…and one way they keep themselves from doing so is telling other people it is bad to do it.

      Hmm…I may write a whole post on that: thanks for bringing it up!

      Enjoy the movies…and the book!

  2. Zebras Says:

    When I was a kid the TV shows looked scary to me so I never got around to seeing the original movies. Then when the Burton version came out, I enjoyed it, and read how he changed lines so the apes said things the humans said and vise versa. So i bought a boxed set with all movies and TV shows except the animated and reallt enjoyed all. I am l looking forward to hearing your opinion about the new movie too.

  3. Tuli Reno Says:

    Wow and yikes. Whenever I see a movie or picture of a group of people demonstrating a particular attribute (future leaders of America etc), I always count the number of women and/or the ethnics/people of color. TPTB forget us sometimes and I wonder why. Is it the particular audience they are trying to attract or do they not have us in their lives?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tuli!

      I assume from this that you read my take on the new movie. 🙂 It’s unusually critical for me, I think, but the issue I addressed there just really stood out to me.

      In this case, they could have easily done some more things for equality (and, I would argue, representation of reality). Wouldn’t it have been interesting if, say, Kathy Bates played the Gary Oldman part? Couldn’t there have been two women in the “Away Team” (so to speak)? The way it is, I guarantee you that someone discussing the movie will refer to the character Ellie as “the girl”.

      As to your last question, I noted that one of the screenwriters appears to be female (based on the name), which suggests that the lack of exposure to women is unlikely to be the issue. I should also point out that it’s not because they are trying to match the 1968 movie…which had a female astronaut. The apes in the 1968 version are much more human than the ones in the 2014 version, so I’d also be more inclined to count Kim Hunter’s Zira as an empowered female character.

  4. danny63 Says:

    “That version, by the way, is available at no additional cost as Prime streaming…along with its four direct sequels! Good way to have a good binge watch.”

    Thanks for the tip! I see an Apes marathon in my very near future.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, danny63!

      Always hard to say how long movies will stay in Prime. I’m thinking I may try and watch 3, 4, and 5 today (while I’m doing other things, of course). Escape, Conquest, and Battle (in that order) really represent their own trilogy.

  5. Lady Galaxy Says:

    If “Planet of the Apes” joins Kindle worlds, might we someday see a version of that “unsolicited script”?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Certainly a possibility! I’ve suggested PotA as a possible Kindle World. I think I could capture the voice of the later original series/TV series pretty well.

  6. “You should be ashamed of reading that” | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] recently wrote about being a fan of the Planet of the Apes (I was linking to the original book). One of my regular […]

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