These were my notes based on research I did of that era. This film is especially rich in parallels to US history of the time it was made. Students enjoyed this film so much and generally agreed that the remake pales in comparison. It is a fine example of how popular film can contain many implicit political sentiments.

I would always show the excellent documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes afterwards. Its an extremely comprehensive look at the entire franchise and its connections to events of the time. The producers speak of the political undercurrents.


The Climate of the Times - The 1960's:


Setting The Historical Stage:

n 1960 more than half of Americans were under 21.
Youth Movement/Generation Gap/Challenge to Authority
"Baby Boomers" came of age

Civil Rights:

1968: Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy assassinated.
- Both were against the war.
- Both spoke out against racism.
- Race Riots broke out in over 70 cities.

The Vietnam War: (I put these statistics on the board)
by 1968:

- 16,000 Americans dead
- 100,000 wounded
- 1,500,000 tons of bombs dropped by US forces
- No media censorship of the Vietnam War- certain images became familiar to everyone who watched tv: jungles, violence, riots, water cannons used on ppl... all seen in POTA.
- Anti-War Protests, university campuses erupt in protest
- Hawks vs. Doves, old vs. new, authority vs. subversion

1968 Chicago Democratic Convention:
- 10,000 protesters
- police cited for exessive violence by gov’t. panel
- this violence seen on tv around the world via satellite transmission ("The whole world is watching")

Trial of the Chicago Seven and Bobby Seal (leader of Black Panthers):
- Bobby Seale bound and gagged in court (just like Taylor in POTA.)

Space Race:
- Apollo 8 – 1st orbit of the moon
- First images of what the Earth looks like from outer space
- Film portrays a African American astronaut!

Themes in film:
The Caste System in Ape Society plays out as follows:
Orangutans- government and religious administrative leaders.
Chimpanzees- scientist, archeologist, animal psychologist, intellectuals
Gorillas- soldiers, guards, brute force

Evolution vs. Creationism
Faith vs. Science… their "Sacred Scrolls" = our bible
Scientific heresy:
- Parallel to Galileo- in 1632 was tried by the Inquisition for asserting that the earth was not the center, that the earth orbited the sun, not the other way around, as religious leaders contended.




Thanks to Eric Greene and his fascinating and insightful book Planet of the Apes as American Myth: Race, Politics, and Popular Culture, published by Wesleyan University Press 1996.