Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rain and Rainbow Pictures and Planet of the Apes

Here are some weather related pictures I took recently. The weather has been cheering up where I live but there is still a lot of rain.

    I recently saw the first Planet of the Apes movie.  After the new Planet of the Apes movie came out, the franchise seemed to have a resurgence within pop culture. But I was out of the loop because I had not seen any of the movies. I didn't feel particularly motivated to watch the old movie because I already knew the twist ending. Also, I thought it would be one of those movies where the sixties costuming would belittle the entire movie with it's cheesiness. But after I heard the movie was like a long version of a Twilight Zone episode, I was on board! Rod Serling helped to write the Planet of the Apes screenplay so it makes sense that the movie would have a  Twilight Zone sensibility.
   On an aesthetic level, I thought the costumes were quite good. The costumes didn't look cheesy to me. Since the apes had evolved from their ancestors, it made sense to have people in apes suits. Before viewing the movie, I thought the apes were suppose to be more like the apes of today.
   The plot of the movie was very interesting also. Space travelers from earth travel through space with intentions to land on another planet. They crash land on an eerie and desolate planet where apes are intelligent creatures and humans are nothing more than a pack of mindless beasts. In the beginning of the movie, the main character, Tayler, was a bit of a jerk. He was grouchy and surly and not the kind of guy I would want to travel through space with.  But Tayler abandoned much of his former bad attitude after experiencing the hardships of imprisonment by apes.
     The movie definitely lived up to my Twilight Zone expectations. The unsettling feel of the story coupled with the ironic, heart wrenching twist at the end is what really gave the movie a Twilight Zone feel. The Twilight Zone is known fore it's twist endings, and the type of twist The Twilight Zone utilizes is similiar to The Planet of the Apes twist because they both leave you heart broken for the character. For example (Spoiler alert from here on out), in the episode 'Time Enough At Last,' Henry Beemis is the last survivor of a bomb that wipes out humanity. He is depressed and suicidal until he sees the library. Mr. Beemis had a great love for reading. To him, books are like kind and comforting friends. Before the bomb, Mr. Beemis was consonantly trying to sneak away to read. He was berated for his love or reading by his bitter wife and his no nonsense employer. Now that he is the only survivor, he at least has his beloved books to keep him company. That is, until his glasses break. Mr. Beemis is practically blind without them. He is now left to his desolate existence without a comfort in the world. The twist isn't jaw-dropping shocking (Like when you find out sweet, demure Ms. So-And-So is the murderer in a mystery novel) but it is heart breaking.
     Another example of an episode with a heart wrenching twist is the episode 'Silence." In this episode, a grouchy old aristocrat is offended by the constant prattle of a younger man. The young man has the gift of gab and loves to chatter. The rich man bets the young man 500,000 dollars that he can not remain silent for a year's worth of time. The young man eagerly accepts the bet. For a years worth of time, the young man lives inside a glass house equipped with microphones, so his silence is constantly monitored. To everyone's amazement, the young man manages to remain quiet for the entire year. But the rich man has lost all his vast wealth and cannot fulfill his end of the bet. The young man was so determined to win the bet not because he is greedy or stubbornly competitive, but because he is deeply in love with his wife who is a very greedy woman. He wants to make his greedy wife happy with money. He was so committed to wining the bet that he took drastic measures, he cut his vocal chords. In the end, he does not get the money and he never gets to talk again.
  The ending of Planet of the Apes leaves the viewer with the same heart wrenching feeling.  At the end, (more spoiler alert)  Tayler sees the statue of liberty and realizes the horrible planet he is on is his own. Seeing humans reduced to nothing more than glazed eyed and speechless animals was hard enough. But at least he was able to comfort himself with the knowledge that on his own planet humans were still prospering and probably had evolved eons beyond comprehension. But all hope for his kind is lost when he realizes that he is on his own planet. The end has a very "you can never go home" feel, which is also a common theme in The Twilight Zone. So many of the episodes in The Twilight Zone are steeped in nostalgia for a simpler time. One example is an episode called "Walking Distance." In this episode, a man maned Martin visits his home town. Surprisingly, nothing has changed, not even soda prices (Which of course is one of the most commonly used economic indicators of inflation, right after candy bar prices.) Martin realizes he isn't just visiting his home town, he is visiting the past. He is back in the summer of his youth when he was just a jolly young boy. He even meets little him. But his presence in the past is depriving little Martin of the carefree childhood that grown Martin is so nostalgic for. In the end, the learns that you can never truly go home again. Both Martin and Taylor learn the same heart breaking lesson in very different ways.
   Now that I have seen the first Planet of the Apes movie, I want to see the new one and the other movies in the series. I hope they live up to The Twilight Zone charm that the first movie had.


Optimistic Existentialist said...

I haven't seen any of the originals but last summer I did see the newest one that told the origin of how the apes came to power. It was a great movie and has me quite interested in seeing the others!

Amber said...

Nice! I am glad to hear the first one was good. I am excited to see it.