Oh My God! I Was Wrong! It was Serling All Along!
August 5, 2011 8:59 PM   Subscribe

In 1963, French novelist (and former secret agent!) Pierre Boulle, released a smashing new Sci-Fi novel called La planète des singes (Monkey Planet in the UK). Like his previous 1952 bestseller, Le Pont de la rivière Kwaï (Bridge Over the River Kwai), the book was adapted into a classic film - and eventually a franchise of some note. Interested in how Boulle's sociopolitical satire became one of the iconic films of our time? You can read some of the backstory about Serling's involvement with the project, then have a look at the various drafts themselves and final shooting script. [Previously].
posted by Dr. Zira (12 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You bastard. You posted it... YOU POSTED IT.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 9:23 PM on August 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


When I first saw the original Planet of the Apes I didn't see the sociopolitical lessons so much as a lack of cross-species comprehension. The apes of the future treat the mute humans much as we treat the Great Apes now: as dangerous, curious animals that can be captured and studied with indifference.

Thanks for the links, Dr. Zira.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:12 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I heartily reccomend the book, though it is not at all like the novel (esp in tone). It's much lighter, and sharper.

I do still love the films - forna lobg time, the third ("Escape from the Planet of the Apes") was my favorite, because there's no pesky Charleton Heston to take screentime away from Zira and Cornelius who are way more awesome (esp Zira :)
posted by jb at 10:28 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

I second the recommendation for the book (if you can find it). The scene where Zaius learns that the narrator can understand him actually makes Zaius a bit more human, if you'll pardon the expression.
posted by crataegus at 10:50 PM on August 5, 2011

damn you all to hell
posted by philip-random at 11:43 PM on August 5, 2011

Nthing the book recommendation. I loved the image of the stock exchange with apes swinging on ropes back and forth over the trading floor.

I read the book in fifth grade because my best friend and I were totally into the movies and the TV series that was on that year. Expecting something totally different, it turned out to be the first "real" science fiction book I ever read.
posted by briank at 6:40 AM on August 6, 2011

A friend and I once devoted an entire weekend to watching all six movies, in sequence. By the end it felt like "Well, we've got these costumes, and the UC Irvine campus looks kinda futuristic. Whattya say, shall we try to squeeze one more movie from 'em?"
posted by benito.strauss at 8:16 AM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

La planète des singes is one of a small number of novels that I've read in French. It's short and not too difficult, but it does throw an absurd amount of monkey-related vocabulary at you. They have a word ("guenon") for "lady-monkey"! (Well, lady-chimpanzee.)
posted by Casuistry at 9:09 AM on August 6, 2011

benito.strauss, have you been to the Century City mall? That's where they filmed "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes". When I first moved out to LA, I was walking around that mall thinking it looked oddly familiar, as if something great had happened there. And it was! It was where the downfall of the human race took place!
posted by cazoo at 9:41 AM on August 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

benito.strauss, have you been to the Century City mall?

I grew up in Orange County. It took some time and some travel before I realized that "looks like the local junior college" was supposed to mean "futuristic".

Also, when riding the subway I sometimes think I'm on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2011

A friend and I once devoted an entire weekend to watching all six movies, in sequence.

I remember a film critic once saying of the Planet of the Apes series, "The first movie is perfect for fifteen year olds of all ages, the second for ten year olds, the third for five year olds, at which point the whole thing becomes completely pointless." I never made it past the second movie which did, of course, have one of the greatest endings ever.

And speaking of the book, I had to read it Grade 12 and do a comparison with the movie, specifically with regard to the differing targets of their satire. As I recall, the movie was concerned with commenting on various issues of the world of now (the late 1960s that is), whereas the book was more concerned with humanity in general and where we were headed as technology softened us up and we lost touch with the primal aspects of our psyches. Anyway, I got an A.
posted by philip-random at 10:50 AM on August 6, 2011

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