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On a cold, dry evening of February 9, 1968, cinemagoers at New York's venerable Capitol Theatre were the first members of the public to be taken to a new but worryingly familiar world.
Ahead of the film's nationwide April opening, patrons of the picture palace at 1645 Broadway half a century ago caught an early glimpse of the Planet Of The Apes.
Satire - Author - Pierre - Boulle - Set
Based on a 1963 Swiftian satire by French author Pierre Boulle set in 1968, Planet Of The Apes was an ostensibly goofy science-fiction tale directed by Franklin J Schaffner about a team of astronauts led by a chisel-jawed George Taylor (Charlton Heston) who blast off from Earth in the suitably futuristic year of 1972 and, by some dint of inconvenient Einsteinian time dilation, end up on a planet ruled by chimps, gorillas and orangutans.
Spoiler alert: it's Earth.
Premise - Hundreds - Years - War - Civilisation
The premise is that in 3978, many hundreds of years after a nuclear war destroyed human civilisation, our near-relatives, the great apes, underwent the same evolutionary leap that had taken our bloodline from forest-dwelling apes like Ardipithecus ramidus to the species that would eventually split the atom, walk on the Moon and invent reality TV.
Taylor learns that humans had somehow – related to the collective trauma of nea- extinction – lost the power of speech. A loss of ability coincidentally suffered by our astronaut friend through an unfortunate accident. This prevents him from just explaining the situation and making the film an interesting 15-minute short.
Robbed - Voice - Astronaut - Outfit - Taylor
Robbed of his voice and his astronaut outfit, Taylor looks like any other voiceless human of the fourth millennium. Soon enough, he's captured by equestrian gorillas. Shenanigans ensue.
Taylor eventually enlists the help of chimpanzee scientist Cornelius – a scene-stealing turn by an almost unrecognisable Roddy McDowell – and after a few more adventures comes to the realisation that this "planet...
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