Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

(1972)

Directed by J. Lee Thompson

Starring Roddy McDowell, Don Murray, Ricardo Montalban, Austin Stoker

Rating: ******
              5/6

A clever Caesar tries to make friends among the apes.

(SPOILERS)

This is the one for which we’ve waited
Since the first two Apes films and the one that predated.
We’ve been told what happens but have yet to see it.
Of all the Apes movies, this one had to be it.

In Present Day, humans rule the Earth,
But their pets will get sick and will die as if cursed,
So the best replacement that they can imagine
Are big, strong apes that can kill them a fraction,

But apes aren’t housebroken, so they have to be taught
In large-scale prisons, which sound nice, but they’re not.
One of those places is where Caesar is left.
If you think that he might be the smart ape, good guess.

Of the astronaut apes from Escape,
One had a baby who could only escape
If left in a circus, small but fun,
And protected by Ricardo Montalban,

But Caesar’s too old, so he must come to this new pasture,
And be trained to serve his new human masters.
He must also be very careful lest
Someone hears him speaking and marks him for death.

So he joins the ape captives and sees them mistreated,
Seeing them beaten and burned and feeling defeated,
And the anger inside him burns like a fire.
He imagines performing his own misdeeds dire.

Being intelligent, he works out a plan
That would work against his oppressor, Man,
And when the right time finally comes,
Caesar gives the signal and his new army comes.

Apes armed with knives and apes armed with spears
Advance upon their armed enemy, near.
Many die, but this exercise isn’t for fun.
They murder the people and take all their guns.

Caesar is tortured.

Apes armed with rifles march through the town,
Attacking and stabbing and shooting men down,
Until the last men alive are the Warden’s close guards.
They, with the Warden, are chased many yards,

Till they’re finally captured, and all unarmed.
In the movie you saw, they don’t get harmed.
Caesar, their leader, starts making a speech
About how every human that falls within reach
Will be viciously killed, with menace unkind.
Then he goes and changes his mind.

With the Warden on the ground, scared and cold,
The apes lift their rifles to bash in their skulls,
And Caesar, remembering the whippings and pain,
Decides that they should issue a compassionate refrain.

Compassion?

What just happened?

This new turn seems to have just sprung from the thickets,
But was added in later to sell more tickets.
Test screenings made the Studio pending
Uncomfortable enough to alter the ending.

This was the darkest Apes film to date,
The darkest, most violent, most bloody to date.
It needed to be, for the story is dark.
It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park.

Some people in the test audience loved it,
But there were also those who didn’t love it.
Mothers would remove the small children with them,
Saying the film was too graphic for them.

In addition to some people going away,
An R-rating was threatened by the MPPA.
The Studio decided to tone it down,
So they trimmed and they cut and they shortened it down.

They could not afford to reshoot the end,
Which ended like it was supposed to end,
With the guards and the Warden beaten to death,
And Caesar standing in malevolence.

The apes get their vengeance!
So they zoomed in on Caesar’s eyes
And overlaid new words with the compassion guise,
And the footage of the apes bashing the men was reversed.
Then they released the movie, and the whole thing worked.

This might be my favourite Apes film.
It has everything one could want in an Apes film.
I’m giving it a five. It didn’t just entertain,
But I’ll definitely see it once again.

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