Who Is Invited To The Ultimate Screening Of Planet Of The Apes?

Posted by on May 13th, 2010

One movie. Five people, living or dead, at the screening. Who and why?

Today’s screening: “Planet of the Apes”

Embraced as an indispensible entry in America’s sci-fi film canon, Franklin Schaffner’s 1968 “Planet of the Apes” told the story of three astronauts who, after embarking on a near-light-speed space expedition in the year 2006, wake up 1,972 years in the future on a strange planet populated by an advanced society of super-intelligent apes, and primitive tribes of feral humans. More than just a zany series of ape-amok misadventures (but certainly not short on them), the movie ultimately reveals that the mystery planet is none other than the post-apocalyptic Earth, ravaged by man’s nuclear follies.

1. Charles Darwin (1809-1882), Naturalist

Dealing with everything from orchids to apes, Darwin published a variety of theories relating to common ancestry, sexual selection, evolution and the transmutation of species. Given that he didn’t live long enough to see the advent of motion pictures, it would be delightful to watch the old limey’s beard frizz as he observes a city full of chatty, sentient apes running a hierarchal society that has reached the tentative acme of near-human cultural development that exists between the domestication of livestock and the ability to mass produce scratch-and-win games. “What debased natural process wrought such insanity? How did humans revert back to such a state of barbarism and wild nudeness. What’s an astronaut?” On the upside, the rolling should be a lot more comfortable now that he’s out of his grave.

2. John Glenn (1921- ), Astronaut

The first American ever smushed inside a capsule and launched into orbit around the Earth, John Glenn made two space flights: one pre-Apes in 1962, and one post-Apes in 1997. Aboard the Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7, as he made three complete circuits around the planet, Glenn’s biggest fears were probably hull breaches, incinerating upon re-entry and space madness. But that was way back in the days before anyone had imagined that a group of well-meaning astronauts could end up wrangled into medical research by sinister apes who hijacked the future of man. On his second mission, a nine-day jaunt aboard the space shuttle Discovery, I bet all he was thinking about was apes, space and the transience of human love as it applies to apes. I don’t know if re-watching the movie will help to further quiet these fears or simply re-awaken them, but if he gets so freaked out that he has to step outside, I think we can all agree not to let him back in until he picks up some snacks.

3. Jane Goodall (1934- ), Primatologist
Best known for parlaying her obsessive ape gazing into a successful career as an observer and scholar of social and familial relations among chimps, Goodall is the perfect person to explain the inner-workings of Ape City’s social class system. Gorillas are the warriors, enforcers and hunters. Orangutans are the bureaucrats and litigators. Chimps are the scientists and philosophers. Why, Jane Goodall, why? Are chimps actually smarter than the other two species, or merely more motivated to pursue upper level educational degrees? Are orangutans preternaturally adept at administrative tasks, or has their natural understanding of macroeconomics pigeon-holed them into paper pushing and officious drudgery? Are most gorillas police officers because of their strength or because they failed the FBI eligibility exam? I can’t possibly see how this falls outside your scientific expertise.

4. Frederic Bartholdi (1834-1904), Sculptor
Famous for designing “Liberty Enlightening the World,” or, as it’s known in our typically moronified American parlance, “The Statue of Liberty,” Bartholdi personally selected New York Harbor as the site for his creation, and supposedly modeled the statue’s face after the face of his mother and the body after the body of his wife (resulting in a bizarre oedipal fever dream of a figure that’s high screwability factor exists only in relation to the opposite combination of features). Obviously, watching “Planet of the Apes” would be a bitter-sweet victory lap for the French sculptor, who would get see his art portrayed as a singular icon representing all of modern human civilization, but also three-quarters buried, relegated to the Forbidden Zone and used in the service of an out-sized twist ending that’s as ridiculously awesome as it is awesomely ridiculous. Also, we’ll show him art work from “Escape From New York” and scenes from “Cloverfield” and “Ghostbusters II.” Let’s see a smile, Bartholdi! Harold Ramis never used a remixed Jackie Wilson tune to drive any of da Vinci’s sculptures into a haunted art museum.

5. M. Night Shyamalan (1970- ), Filmmaker

See, M.? This is how it’s done – smart enough to take seriously, exaggerated enough to be entertaining and used to cap off a story a whole hell of a lot more satisfying than, “once, a long time ago, there was this village… Psyche! It was now that the village was. I mean is. Whoops. I’m late for my cameo. Keep on swinging!”

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