Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

So here it is. The film that started the fall, story-wise it resembles a narrative mesh of the first two in the new trilogy, but much like it’s predecessors it has its own distinct flavour and it also skips baby Caesar growing up. I will explore that in my review of Rise and Dawn.

This film is an excellent critique of social inequality as it shows the apes fully enslaved to the humans and it shows their brutal mistreatment this makes it more of a social critique rather than one of animal cruelty as the apes resemble humans more than their real animal counterparts.

Armando returns and is as sympathetic as ever. He has renamed Milo, Caesar for no other reason than it fits the rise of a great ruler to be named for an ancient line of kings instead of a character of no real consequence. And the relationship between Armando and Caesar while only briefly together on-screen is sincere. Armando acting like a surrogate father to Caesar and Caesar the fool-hardy and headstrong young man. Armando is sympathetic and protective to Caesar and his people but is trapped in the minority by a system of oppression that he cannot himself change due to its vastness and it is evidenced in his performance that his character has lived a life of misdirection as he masks his true feelings behind charm and charisma like only Montalbán can provide.

Caesar “chooses” his own name in a great scene where the governor picks out a book for the purpose of having him choose his own name and it would have been a more powerful scene had his name not have been Caesar since the beginning but then his retention of the name would have been nonsensical.

A nice touch in this film is that the other apes seem to recognise Caesar instinctually as their leader and saviour. As suggested in the movie the apes are becoming more aware and rebellious they just need a leader to unite them and Caesar is that.

The conditioning scene in the film is brutal with fire, whips and electrocution and it really hammers home the humans as villainous monsters. It is essentially a mass torture scene and really shows how Caesar goes from disgruntled servant to furious revolutionary. To see his people suffer greatly is heart-breaking, however something is still holding him to servitude, his love for Armando and when he discovers Armando’s fate, his sorrow becomes a rage. His final speech to the Governor is simply chilling. The rise of slave against their masters.

This film is an excellent portrayal of slavery and uprising and it was cool to see the events that Cornelius and Zira referenced in the previous film come to pass. The repetition of the word “no” is effective in building hatred and discomfort for the word when used towards the apes.

The secret police are quite terrifying and the main one really maintains a screen presence and this is reinforced by the Nazi-esque style of the government with the black leather.

The prosthetics are once again spectacular with some phenomenal creature actors inside them. Their near human physiques are enhanced by their still animal-like movements. 7/10.


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