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[personal profile] krpalmer
Out of all the things that have managed to reach some critical mass of cultural references where it seems possible to "know about it" without actual experience of it, I just might have found myself sort of fixing on "Planet of the Apes." Primed by a good number of jokes from The Simpsons and a wide variety of references in Mystery Science Theater 3000, when a while back a cable channel showed a New Year's Day marathon of the five-movie cycle of the 1960s and 1970s I dipped in briefly "just to see how it began" and "just to see that famous last scene." I also happened to find and read the original translated-from-the-French novel, indulging in a bit of speculative contemplation about potential differences between its "how do we treat animals? how do we interpret them?" satire and the American movies that followed. One day not that long ago, though, I happened to notice a DVD of the very first Planet of the Apes at a local store, and with the thought it would be easier to get into than the five-movie collections that go on sale every once in a while I went ahead and bought it.

It was at times a little hard to disentangle the movie from the jokes; I could wind up grinning not just at lines I already knew were memorable but just from terms like "Ape Law" (not quite in the context I'd always thought it would be in) and "the Lawgiver." Even so, I did find myself able to wonder about "changing interpretations"; beyond my initial thoughts about "teaching sign language" in the decade that followed the movie, hearing knowledge of the past suppressed on "religious" grounds does seem a bit more "ominous" now than it might have when the movie was being made. (By the end of the movie, though, I was thinking there might be halfway comprehensible reasons for that suppression...) It was distinctly amusing to me, though, for there to be a youthful ape resentful of "the older generation"; it did add on a feeling of the movie having been made in a particular time and place. While it's easy enough to say "it's not 2001" (although when an Academy Award for special effects was given to Planet of the Apes Arthur C. Clarke did wonder whether it was because the Academy thought 2001: A Space Odyssey had used actual apes), you could say that about pretty much every movie.

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