Planet of the Apes is a 1968 American science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, based on the 1963 novel La planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison. It was the first in a series of five films made between 1968 and 1973, all produced by Arthur P. Jacobs and released by 20th Century Fox. A remake and reboot/prequel followed in 2001 and 2011. The original 1968 film tells the story of an astronaut crew who crash-land on a strange planet in the distant future. Although the planet appears desolate at first, the surviving crew members stumble upon a society in which apes have evolved into creatures with human-like intelligence and speech. The apes have assumed the role of the dominant species and humans are mute animals wearing animal skins. The script was originally written by Rod Serling but had many rewrites before eventually being made. Changes included character names and a more primitive ape society, instead of the more expensive idea of having futuristic buildings and advanced technology. Directors J. Lee Thompson and Blake Edwards were approached, but the film's producer Arthur P. Jacobs, upon the advice of Charlton Heston, chose Franklin J. Schaffner to direct the film. Filming took place between MayAugust 1967, mostly in California and Arizona, with the opening scene shot at Lake Powell, Utah. The film's budget was around $5,800,000. Planet of the Apes was released on February 8, 1968 in the United States and was a commercial success, gaining $32,589,624 at the international box office. The film was groundbreaking for its prosthetic makeup techniques by artist John Chambers, and was well received by critics and audiences, launching a film franchise, including four sequels, as well as a short-lived television show, animated series, comic books, various merchandising, and eventually a remake in 2001 and a new film to be released in 2011. In particular, Roddy McDowall had a long-running relationship with the Apes series, appearing in four of the original five films (absent, apart from a brief voiceover, from the second film of the series Beneath the Planet of the Apes in which he was replaced by David Watson in the role of Cornelius), and also in the television series. In 2001, Planet of the Apes was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Astronauts Taylor (Charlton Heston), Landon (Robert Gunner), Dodge (Jeff Burton) and Stewart (an uncredited Dianne Stanley) are in deep hibernation when their spaceship Icarus crash-lands in a lake on an unknown planet in the year 3978 A.D., after a 2006-year voyage at near-light speed (during which the crew ages only 18 months due to time dilation). The planet has no moon and the clouds at night are luminous. The astronauts awaken to find Stewart's decomposed body and their ship sinking. They use an inflatable raft to reach shore. Once there, Dodge performs a soil test and pronounces the soil incapable of sustaining life. The three astronauts set off through the desert, gradually encountering plant life. They find an oasis at the edge of the desert and decide to go swimming, ignoring strange scarecrow-like figures. While they are swimming, their clothes are stolen. Pursuing the thieves, the astronauts find their clothes in shreds and the perpetrators a group of mute, primitive humans contentedly raiding a cornfield. Suddenly, gorillas on horseback charge through the cornfield, brandishing firearms, snares, and nets, which they use to capture whatever humans they can and kill those they cannot. While fleeing, Dodge is killed, Landon is bashed in the head and knocked unconscious, and Taylor is shot in the throat. The gorillas take Taylor to Ape City, where his life is saved by two chimpanzee scientists, animal psychologist Zira (Kim Hunter) and surgeon Galen. Upon awakening, Taylor now housed in a cage with a girl whom he later calls Nova (Linda Harrison), who was captured on the same hunt discovers that his throat wound has rendered him temporarily mute. Taylor discovers that the apes, who can talk, are in control and are divided into a strict caste system: the gorillas as police, military, and hunters; the orangutans as administrators, politicians, and lawyers; and the chimpanzees as intellectuals and scientists. Humans, who cannot talk, are considered feral vermin and are hunted and either killed outright, enslaved for manual labor, or used for scientific experimentation. Zira and her fiancé, Cornelius, an archaeologist, take an interest in Taylor when he tries to communicate by mouthing words. Taylor attempts to communicate by writing in the dirt, but his writings are hidden by Zira and Cornelius's boss, an orangutan named Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans). Eventually, Taylor steals paper from Zira and uses it to write messages to her. Zira and Cornelius become convinced that Taylor is intelligent; but upon learning of this, Zaius orders that Taylor be castrated. Taylor manages to escape and flees through Ape City. During his flight, he finds himself in a museum, where Dodge's corpse has been stuffed and put on display. Shortly thereafter, Taylor is recaptured by gorillas; finding that his throat has healed, he angrily addresses them, shouting (in what has become one of the most memorable film lines) "Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!" When back in his cell, Nova is then transferred to a cell across from Taylor's cell as the warden Julius (Buck Kartalian) sprays Taylor with water. The apes hold a tribunal to determine Taylor's origins (in a parody of the Scopes "Monkey" Trial) run by the President of the Assembly (James Whitmore), Dr. Zaius, and Dr. Maximus (Woodrow Parfrey) with Dr. Honorious (James Daly) as the prosecution. Taylor tells of his two comrades and explains that one was killed and the other lost. At this point the court produces Landon, who has been subjected to a lobotomy that has rendered him catatonic. After the tribunal, Dr. Zaius privately threatens to lobotomize Taylor if he doesn't lie about where he came from. With help from Zira's socially-rebellious nephew Lucius (Lou Wagner), Zira and Cornelius intervene early the next morning and kidnap Taylor and Nova, taking them to The Forbidden Zone, a region outside of Ape City. Cornelius explains that no one knows why it is called The Forbidden Zone; it is merely an ancient taboo and has remained quarantined for centuries. Some years earlier, Cornelius had been digging near the zone and found artifacts of a previous civilization that was not simian. When the party is intercepted by Dr. Zaius and his soldiers, Taylor spares Zaius' life. Inside a cave, Cornelius shows them the remnants of a technologically advanced human society. The truth is revealed that the apes' world was, at one time, controlled by humans, but at some point in history, apes developed intelligence and the roles of apes and humans were inverted, with apes becoming the dominant species and humans becoming first household pets, and eventually animals living in the wild, incapable of speech. Dr. Zaius admits that he has always known about man and the fact that human civilization existed long before apes ruled the planet. He explains that The Forbidden Zone was once a paradise, but man's destructive tendencies caused it to be annihilated thousands of years earlier. Zaius agrees to exile Taylor and Nova, implying that somewhere within the zone lies something that completely reveals the truth about the vanished human civilization. He further implies that this area was considered forbidden in order to protect the ape civilization. Zaius advises Taylor not to look for it because he will not like what he finds. When Zira asks, "What will he find out there, Doctor?", Zaius replies: "his destiny". Once Taylor and Nova have ridden away on horseback, Dr. Zaius has the gorillas lay explosives and destroy the evidence of the human society. Taylor and Nova follow the shoreline and eventually discover the truth that Dr. Zaius warned them about: Taylor stops the horse and dismounts, staring up in disbelief at an object not visible to the viewer. He approaches the object, finally descending into a fit of rage, screaming: "We finally really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you. God damn you all to hell!" The picture zooms out to reveal the charred remnants of the Statue of Liberty, half-submerged in the shoreline, revealing that the planet was actually Earth the whole time, and that The Forbidden Zone was once New York City, destroyed, presumably, in a global nuclear war.