Today marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of "Star Wars". With this in mind, my friend and I decided to undertake a marathon viewing of the entire series of the "Planet of the Apes" films. No, it doesn't make nice simple sense like watching all of George Lucas' galactic saga, but I have been waiting for almost a year to find the time to sit down and take in the science fiction fantasia that began nine years before, in a galaxy not so far away.
9:30 AM - The show begins with the Twentieth Century Fox logo - just like Lucasfilm, only with a little shorter fanfare. We're in for the one hundred and twelve minute introduction to a land where man is primitive and super-intelligent apes run the show. We realize that we can't recreate the experience of moviegoers back in 1968, since the shock ending has become a punchline in the past four decades.
10:35 AM We hear Taylor croak, "Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" This was voted as the #66 movie quote by the American Film Institute.
11:30 AM - Hey, he never left Earth at all. They blew it up, or at the very least they let the New York shoreline get all messed up. Thus endeth chapter one.
11:38 - Lunch orders in, comfort stops made, we plunge "Beneath the Planet of the Apes." Our initial observations regarding Doctor Hasslein's theory of Observed Time suggest that time begins to slow as we continue to watch films about super-intelligent apes. The first one was almost two hours, this one clocks in at just barely an hour and a half.
12:45 PM - We're wondering if we didn't hit our own "defect in time" and start watching "Star Trek" reruns starring orangutans and chimpanzees.
1:05 PM - Is it any wonder that our astronauts have such a hard time dealing with reality when they are trained to deal with such varied threats as a gorilla army, mutant mind control and a doomsday bomb?
1:10 PM - And just like that, they blew up the planet. The whole thing. Just like that. How could there possibly be another film?
1:45 PM - We can't spend too much time trying to comprehend what Doctor Hasslein had in mind. We've got to keep moving if we want to be free of "Escape From..." before sundown.
2:16 PM - It is fun to watch chimpanzees discuss the evolution of their species.
2:33 PM - I have just recalled that I had a great many quotations from the "Apes" movies on Dymotape labels stuck on my bedroom door - including "It wasn't our war - it was the gorilla's war."
3:13 PM - It has just occurred to me that we will shortly be leaving Kim Hunter behind as we move still further down the line of our possible futures. We'll miss you, Zira.
3:29 PM - We are now rounding the clubhouse turn as we pile on into "Conquest of..." There is a giddy sense of euphoria as the dystopian future (1991) that has already passed. Maybe Doctor Hasslein was right after all.
4:17 PM - In 1991 we have phones without cords - well, at least the 1991 that we see in 1972... Wow. And all those turtlenecks. And sideburns. This future is none too friendly, is it?
4:53 PM - Caesar has just decreed that he will lead his "people" out of bondage, to witness the birth of the Planet of jump-suit-clad super-intelligent Apes.
5:07 PM - At last we find ourselves in the year 2670 A.D., with the Lawgiver (who bears a shocking vocal similarity to John Huston) giving us a rundown of the last six centuries. We can smell the barn, or the monkey house.
5:18 PM - Virgil the Orangutan is waxing on about travelling faster than light, and bending time. What does an ape know about such things? And how did he write all those fabulous tunes?
6:01 PM - Can man and ape live in peace? Only time (and Doctor Hasslein) will tell.
6:23 PM - The rag-tag armada of the mutants is presently attacking what looks like a Renaissance Faire attended by a group of super-intelligent apes.
6:46 PM - "Lawgiver, who knows about the future?" "Perhaps," says a foam latex encumbered John Huston, "Only the dead may know." Okay, them and the those of us who spent the daylight hours of May 29, 2007 watching all five "Planet of the Apes" movies. I feel as though I've only aged a day...