Monday, July 18, 2011

Planet of the Apes, by Pierre Boulle

(hb; 1963; translated from French by Xan Fielding)


In the year 2500, human astronaut Ulysse Mérou and his two fellow scientist/astronauts discover and investigate an Earthlike planet at another end of the universe (a "region of space where the supergigantic star Betelgeuse - or Alpha Orionis, as our astronomers called it, reigned supreme. . . about three hundred light-years distant from [Earth]").

What they discover is more than an Earth-turned-on-its-evolutionary-head world - and that's just the beginning of the shocks, many of which are different than the cinematic versions that were spawned from this novel.

Apes is a solid, tightly-written short read that makes its seemingly implausible premise not only plausible, but almost inevitable, within the confines of Boulle's landmark science fiction logic.

Worthwhile read, this.


Planet was released stateside as a film on April 3, 1968.

Charlton Heston played Colonel George Taylor [the film equivalent of Ulysse Mérou]. Roddy McDowall played Cornelius. Kim Hunter played Dr. Zira. Linda Harrison played Nova.

Maurice Evans played Dr. Zaius - Minister of Science. James Whitmore played President of the Assembly. Robert Gunner played Landon. Lou Wagner played Lucius.

Franklin J. Schaffner directed the film from a script co-authored by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling.


Sequels followed: Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970); Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971); Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972); Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).


In 1974, a fourteen-episode television series, Planet of the Apes aired stateside.

A year later, an animated television series, Return to the Planet of the Apes, aired stateside - it ran for thirteen episodes before getting cancelled.

In 1981, a live-action television movie, Back to the Planet of the Apes - actually two episodes of the 1974 series (Planet of the Apes) edited together - aired on American television.


A theatrical remake of the original film, Planet of the Apes, was released stateside on July 27, 2001.

Mark Wahlberg played Captain Leo Davidson. Evan Parke played Gunnar. Helena Bonham Carter played Ari. Estella Warren played Daena. Lisa Marie played Nova.

Tim Roth played Thade. An uncredited Charlton Heston, in a species role reversal, played "Zaius - Thade's Father".

Michael Clarke Duncan played Attar. Paul Giamatti played Limbo. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa played Krull.

Kris Kristofferson played Karubi. David Warner played Sandar. Erick Avari played Tival. Anne Ramsay played Lt. Col. Grace Alexander. Michael Jace played Major Frank Santos.

Famous cinematic make-up artist Rick Baker played "Old Ape #2". An uncredited Jesse Kristofferson, son of Kris Kristofferson, played a "Starving Human".

Tim Burton directed the film, from a script by William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal.


Rise of the Planet of the Apes - a prequel to the original Planet of the Apes - is scheduled for stateside release on August 5, 2011.

James Franco played Will Rodman. Andy Serkis played Caesar. Freida Pinto played Caroline. John Lithgow played Charles Rodman.

Brian Cox played John Landon. Tom Felton played Dodge Landon.

David Hewlett played Hunsiker. Tyler Labine played Franklin. Sonja Bennett played "Woman on Street". Chelah Horsdal played Irena.

Rupert Wyatt directed the film, from a screenplay co-authored by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver.

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