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More on Rise of the Planet of the Apes

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One of the strongest aspects of Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the fact that once the apes receive intelligence, it is expressed in a much different way than we Americans usually conceive of it. In the original movies, we find the apes wearing bifocals and eloquently pontificating with stuffy English accents on the finer points of science and philosophy over tea. This is the average American’s idea of intelligence — civilized Englishmen who hold rational thought as the highest good. The original movies sought to illustrate that apes could make better Englishmen than real Englishmen.

However, in the latest movie, when “Caesar” is magically endowed with “intelligence,” he does not don a pair of spectacles and quote Chaucer. He immediately perceives that he is not like the people around him and that society is hostile to him. Of course he could have “worked within the system” to improve his own personal situation (he gets several opportunities to “go home,” and he learns early on how to escape from his cell), but he realizes that there is no real or lasting security living among potentially hostile aliens.

Although his own kind seem to have little to offer him, he selflessly works to free them. For Caesar, it’s not about what his people can offer him, but rather Caesar’s realization that he can’t survive in any real sense without being among his own kind. When Caesar declares that he is “at home” in the end, he isn’t referring to any geographic location, but rather the fact that his distinct group is no longer forcefully integrated with the outside world.

Intelligence for Caesar is expressed through the classical virtues of courage, honor, pride, dignity, strength, and strategic silence. It is noteworthy that racial solidarity is considered a self-evident virtue in this film. After Caesar becomes aware of his people’s situation, their salvation becomes a categorical imperative. His intelligence could no longer be satisfied by receiving his master’s praise or sitting around solving crossword puzzles because he obviously valued honesty and knew that a return to his former life would require intellectual dishonesty. I must say I was relieved that the filmmakers didn’t screw it all up in the end by allowing Caesar to extend a helping hand to his enemy to “save a precious life.”

I didn’t think the movie was directed particularly well, but the plot was nicely paced. I was also glad to see them “keep it real” with Caesar’s character when they had ample opportunities to provide a politically-correct moral to the story. I use finger quotes for “keeping it real” because this is low-class talk for behaving like an animal. But acting without inhibition can be a good thing when that action is tempered by discipline and guided by honor. However, in America, only certain minority groups are permitted to act in the manner of Caesar while the majority are under a different set of laws and penalties prohibiting this type of behavior (Hate Crime Laws).

Incidentally, Caesar’s healthier way of thinking allows him to evolve into a more enlightened character. Ultimately he begins to speak as a wise man, teaching in parables that apes are only weak alone, but strong when they band together.

I for one hate CGI and love the campy feel of the original series. I get distracted and annoyed when the camera starts calling attention to itself by twisting and spinning and following fake apes up fake trees into the fake sunset. I don’t understand the argument that CGI apes look more realistic than men wearing costumes. I can reach out and touch a man wearing a costume, and that makes him more real to me than any cartoon. Overall the film was not an improvement on the 1968 sci-fi classic. But its message was healthier, and it was more entertaining than Tim Burton’s 2001 remake.

One final thought. The Planet of the Apes franchise always tried to eliminate any black and white interpretations of race by providing several categories of “apes”: chimps, orangutans, gorillas, etc. This leads the less thoughtful viewer to think that the “apes” don’t represent a single unified group, thus they cannot be categorized as racist. However this intentional confusion is nullified by the commandment that is unequivocally established from the outset of the very first movie: Ape shall never kill Ape.

In Rise of Planet of the Apes, I believe there is a healthy, traditional racial subtext (which makes it racist by today’s standards), so to confuse matters, the movie makers slathered on an “animal-rights” message. Perhaps this focus was necessary so the audience felt permitted to root for the racists.

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5 Comments

  1. Dude
    Posted September 4, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    great review!

  2. JNG
    Posted August 11, 2011 at 2:30 am | Permalink
  3. Posted August 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    This was an outstanding review.

  4. Mothergoose
    Posted August 9, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    “No, I’m British.”

    In the film Topkapi (1964) this is the answer Peter Ustinov, standing on the docks in Istanbul, gives a native who asks him, “Are you a foreigner?”.

    Today’s liberal works with a similar, albeit extended, mind-set. Like the Brit of the old Empire days, he too sees himself as ‘universal man’, but with a difference. To the question “Who am I?”, his answer is now extended to include all of humanity since, according to him, we are now all equal. Yet, it’s not this ‘equality’ that interests me, but rather what the liberal answers when pressed with the question “Equal to whom?” The answer is, as we all know, “Equal to me.” Oh they will twist and turn and deny, but that’s the truth. And that too, btw. Is my definition of racism, which is to say, a view of race which is self-destructive. I’ll explain.

    Unlike Ustinov in Tokapi, who held to the belief that there was Universal Man, the Brit, and there was The Rest, the natives, the modern liberal has done away with ‘the native’ and lovingly absorbed everyone into himself. This is, as the review points out, very much the ideological framework of the first Planet of the Apes, in which “we find the apes wearing bifocals and eloquently pontificating with stuffy English accents on the finer points of science and philosophy over tea”. The native has become a Brit. Indeed, the native IS a Brit.

    Of course only the Brit has really fallen for this bit of sophistry (not counting one or two uncle Tom’s) and the end result is that, having included the native into himself, the Brit has excluded himself from himself – it is not the native who is the Brit (he never was and never will be), but the Brit who is now the native.

    José Ortega y Gasset wrote, “Liberalism announces the determination to share existence with the enemy”. That’s all very well as long as my enemy shares the same determination, which, not being a complete fool, he doesn’t. The enemy knows what the suicidal cost of ‘sharing existence’ is. When the self-destructive heart of liberalism sinks in our people will once again be able to ask themselves just who they are, without, having to include in the answer, the native and thereby, a priori, exclude themselves.

    Ultimately the real question is this: just how did this destructive liberal world view manage to take hold of us in the first place? I don’t think a movie dealing with this will manage to slip by our Jewish masters as easily as Rise of the Planet of the Apes did!

  5. Mystery Man
    Posted August 9, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I thought that Dick Laurent was dead . . .

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