Planet of the Apes (1968)

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Released 1-Nov-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer-5
Gallery
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1968
Running Time 107:27
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (45:25) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Franklin J. Schaffner
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Charlton Heston
Roddy McDowall
Kim Hunter
Maurice Evans
James Whitmore
James Daly
Linda Harrison
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Czech
Danish
English
Finnish
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Based heavily on the novel Monkey Planet by Pierre Boulle, Planet Of The Apes is considered a classic of science fiction. It was certainly a hit, and from its success sprang 4 sequels, a TV series and a host of other merchandise. The film itself was a breakthrough for theatrical make-up. Although the make-up was not nominated for an Oscar in the year of its release, an honorary Academy Award for Outstanding Make-up Achievement was given to John Chambers later. The film was also nominated for 2 Oscars back in 1968, one for Best Costume Design (Morton Haack) and one for Best Original Score (Jerry Goldsmith).

     A crew of deep space explorers is on its way to a distant planet to explore and colonize it when disaster strikes and they crash-land on an unknown world. Three members of the crew survive the crash while the 4th, Stuart, the only female on board, had died earlier from an air leak in her suspended animation compartment. The remaining crew, Taylor (Charlton Heston), Landon (Robert Gunner) and Dodge (Jeff Burton) abandon their sinking spacecraft and paddle to safety. A long and difficult desert crossing is successfully completed when the three men come to a waterfall where they rest and bathe. Their bathing is interrupted when they notice a  group of primitive humans stealing their clothing and equipment. The group gives chase and catches up with the humans in a field. They have also walked into a trap where the shocking truth of this mysterious world is revealed to Taylor and his companions.

    In this world, it is the apes that are at the top of the food chain. They have a caste society in which the Orang-utans hold the senior positions, Chimpanzees are the white collar workers and Gorillas the soldiers, police or blue collar workers. The human is no more than an animal and considered a pest. This "animal" is hunted for sport or used for experimentation and has no standing in this upside-down world. The humans try to flee and in the panic that follows, Dodge is shot and killed, Landon is knocked unconscious and Taylor is shot in the throat and captured.

    Taylor is taken to an ape city where he is treated by vets and thrown into a filthy holding area. Bewildered, injured and unable to speak, Taylor tries to communicate with his captors. His attempts attract the attention of  Dr. Zira (Kim Hunter) who is convinced that Taylor is intelligent. She is proven correct when Taylor snatches a pad and pencil from her and writes his name. Amazed, Dr. Zira takes Taylor to her fiancé Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) where Taylor reveals just how intelligent he is. Dr. Cornelius is a controversial archaeologist because he believes that the apes have evolved from the human species, a very unpopular theory and one that clashes head-on with the belief system of the apes, in particular Dr. Zaius the head of both the science and religion ministries.

    Dr. Zaius refuses to listen to Zira and Cornelius and orders that Taylor be castrated, a procedure he knows will likely kill Taylor. Now fearing for his life, Taylor attempts to escape and is pursued all over the ape city by guerilla police. Taylor shocks the ape society when, after he is re-captured, he utters the famous words "Take your stinking paws off me you damn, dirty ape!". I'm not going to reveal any more of the story as it will spoil the movie for you. I encourage you to watch it for yourselves!

   This is an excellent film as it introduces the disturbing concept of man as an inferior being, one that is considered stupid, unhealthy and worthless. It also explores many of the weaknesses that we have revealed throughout our own history. Topics such as racism, arrogance, manipulation and cruelty are explored as well as the problems that can occur in society when science and religion collide. Classic science fiction to be sure.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD contains a good 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced video transfer and is certainly the best way to experience the fine cinematography this 33 year old film has to offer. This film should serve as an example of the absolute superiority of DVD over VHS and why it is ESSENTIAL for DVDs to be presented with the same aspect ratio as the original film. The re-formatted VHS version is an absolute tragedy when compared to this DVD!

    The sharpness of this transfer is very good although some minor edge enhancement has been used. I noted one example at 20:05-20:18. Shadow detail is excellent as is the black level. I was very impressed with the sharpness on offer here. As noted above, this film was made 33 years ago and yet there is a huge amount of detail evident in almost all of the scenes.

    The colours in this film are very good and clearly superior to my VHS version of this film. My only criticism is that skin tones are a little too brown. This is not a problem with the transfer. Rather, it appears to be a quirk of the film stock used to shoot the film.

    There are no obvious MPEG artefacts present in this transfer apart from some very minor pixelization in the sky shown in some of the desert scenes. Some film grain is evident but most of the time it is quite fine and by no means a problem. There is only one exception and that is at the very end of the film where special effects were obviously used and where film grain is very obvious.

    Film-To-Video artefacts are a bit of a problem and take the form of aliasing and moiré effects. You should note that these problems are not limited to just this DVD. They also appear in the VHS version of the film. Aliasing is the biggest problem. At times it is quite noticeable and borders on distracting. The following time periods contain typical examples: 8:23-8:37, 12:00-12:52, 19:34-20:06 and 22:58-23:11. Moiré effects are less frequent and less obvious with only one occurrence worth noting. See 0:26-00:40 for the worst example.

   Film artefacts are present and take the form of  small black or white flecks as well as the odd scratch. I noted one period between 4:10 and  4:48 that is a good example of the worst you can expect to see. All things considered, this is a pretty clean print.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change occurring at 45:25. On my Philips DVD-711 the layer change was very fast and it took me three attempts to find it! It does occur in the middle of a scene and so could be distracting on other players.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio presented on this DVD is good although lacking in surround use, especially for effects.

    There is one audio track present. It is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is encoded at a bit rate of 384 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was always clear and audio sync was never a problem. It sounds to me like the actors recorded all of their dialogue in a studio as it sounds too perfect to have been recorded on the set.

    The score is by Jerry Goldsmith and it beautifully supports the on-screen action. It is often mixed into the surrounds which increases its effectiveness. Some may find it a little unusual but I really enjoyed it. It's a shame that there isn't an isolated audio track on this DVD as I feel that this score is strong enough to be listened to on its own.

    Surround activity for effects is very limited and only prominent during certain passages. The fidelity of the sound effects isn't great either - at times they sound rather hollow or thin. I noted significant surround use during the following time periods: 25:40-27:28, 58:12-59:00 and 86:11-89:42. At other times, the soundfield collapses to the centre channel only. There is some split channel activity but it is feeble and not particularly effective.

    The only time that the subwoofer was clearly heard was during the opening crash sequence and I didn't feel that its use there was appropriate.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras on this DVD are  limited. There is a section with a collection of still images and a section with the Original Theatrical Trailer for each the 5 apes movies. What happened to the making-of documentary that is present on the VHS version of the film? "Not Happy, Jan"!

    The main menu is animated and has sections of the score in it as well. There is also animation as you move from one menu to the next. I thought the menus were quite groovy.

Theatrical Trailers for each of the 5 movies

    A trailer for each of the Planet Of The Apes movies is available on this disc. They are not 16x9 enhanced and have Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio tracks. The quality of each is adequate.

Still Image Gallery

    There are 20 smallish images available here, some behind-the-scenes images, some before and after makeup shots and some concept drawings.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   The Region 4 disc misses out on:    The Region 1 disc misses out on:     Reviews of the  Region 1 version are generally positive. The print used sounds like it was cleaner than our own and no reviewer mentioned aliasing or moiré effects. Edge enhancement was noted as was some minor pixelization. The audio appears to be inferior to our own. A lack of surround activity is commented on as is the dated fidelity of the sound. Given that the Region 1 disc is NTSC, is not 16x9 enhanced and that our audio track may be slightly better, Region 4 is the winner.

Summary

   Planet Of The Apes is a classic science fiction movie and  I recommend that you at least rent it.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Richardson (read my bio)
Thursday, November 09, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPhilips 711, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig M70-281. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSherwood 8090R
SpeakersMains and Rears: Tannoy Mercury M1. Centre: Tannoy Mercury MC. Subwoofer: Polk Audio PSW-120

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Michael D's Region 4 DVD Info Page - Drummond G (Don't read my bio)

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