With the legacy of the Planet of the Apes and its sequel behind them, an idea came about that would lead to a three story arc to round out the now classic franchise. With this in mind, Pierre Boulle’s novel The Planet of the Apes was front and center once again where the source material was mined to create a new and compelling arc that took the original novel and reversed the human and ape character roles for the upcoming films.
The intelligent apes, Cornelius and Zira, take the lead in the first of the three films, Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Through the physics of space and time, they appear on modern day Earth where they at first are beloved as a novelty yet soon such feelings sour as the government learns that the future of the human race may result in slavery and domination by intelligent apes. In the next film, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar, the child of Cornelius and Zira, grows up to lead an army of slave apes in rebellion against man and his suppressing ways. Rounding up the franchise is The Battle for the Planet of the Apes, where Caesar tries to create a society in which both man and ape can live peacefully as equals. However with struggles brewing within the ape community and from humans that have distanced themselves from such a society, Caesar’s visionary hopes could possibly be dashed.
Philip and Mike discuss the final three films within the original franchise. Such topics as race relations, human rights, immigration, animal compassion, and modernization are thrashed out. With the scientific understanding that the wild ape has violent streaks and will also turn upon their own, do these films reflect the nation state where one unjust dictator is removed for a better life of its people only to be replaced by someone more wicked? With the ambiguous nature of the antagonists within these films, one may wonder whether one man’s belief system may be nothing more than that specific man’s perspective.