Planet of the Apes’ most fascinating scene involves astronauts traveling through Arizona’s Forbidden Zone – this sequence was shot at various locations such as Lake Powell and Grand Canyon.
Linda Harrison played Nova, a mute human from Maryland discovered by 20th Century Fox’s talent scout after winning a beauty contest.
George Taylor (Charlton Heston) is a cynical astronaut who crash lands on an unknown planet ruled by intelligent apes and learns they run their world. The plot alludes to significant events of postwar America, such as the Civil Rights Movement and race relations; its climax features one of cinema’s most memorable scenes when the Statue of Liberty is destroyed, highlighting Cold War fears about nuclear destruction that have since diminished significantly.
On landing, they come upon a line of scarecrows that block their path. Later, they see shadowy figures skirting along rocks above them before following these shadowy figures into an impressive forest filled with lush plants and water sources.
Zira and Cornelius bring Taylor before what appears to be a courtroom or hall for questioning by Zira Honorius; orangutan prosecutor Dr. Honorius asks Taylor while the other apes serve as his defense team. Taylor attempts to explain he was part of a scientific experiment but finds himself powerless to do so, asking why Dr. Zaius kept quiet so long. Dr. Zaius answers by fearing humans won’t survive here in this Forbidden Zone.
As the court session continues, Taylor becomes increasingly nostalgic for the past. When asked why he does not believe in God and is accused of blasphemy, Taylor becomes tearful; eventually, the apes allow him to return home on the condition that he won’t return later.
Kim Hunter plays Dr. Zira, a chimpanzee archaeologist, in both of the sequels – Escape from the Planet of the Apes and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes – continuing in her role from its original portrayal by Roddy McDowall but being unavailable due to commitments in England for filming, director Richard Fleischer decided instead to use archive footage of Roddy McDowall for Escape from the Planet of the Apes instead of casting new actors for that part.
Planet of the Apes follows American astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) as he accidentally wanders off course while sleeping during hypersleep, landing him in an unknown world where apes dominate, and humans are treated as wild animals. After being captured and suffering a throat wound, Zira (Kim Hunter) is interested in him; she nicknames him Bright Eyes because his piercing blue eyes catch her attention. She nurses him back to health while impressing her with his intelligence before sending him off to show Dr. Zaius so he could show him their primitive technology while showing him off their superior intelligence.
Michael Wilson kept much of Pierre Boulle’s original novel intact while having to scale down its ape civilization due to budgetary considerations. Producing high-tech societies was too costly; instead they decided on something simpler with chimpanzees acting as government and military, orangutans serving as religious leaders and scientists for Simian scientists, and gorillas serving as laborers and farmers – creating a more convincingly alien world, with sets designed by art director William Creber which look more natural or rural- looking buildings as though made of stone than in its original version.
Zira remains hopeful about returning home despite her exile from the central ape city, Cornelius being her primary support. They share a telepathic connection, and Zira wants Taylor back home; her main goal is to convince him that apes wouldn’t understand or accept his culture.
Zira is depicted as an approachable yet strong-willed heroine with a sense of humor. Redd Kross made her one of their signature characters on their 1990 Atlantic Records album Third Eye called “Zira,” dedicating this track as a nod to this beloved character. Additionally, she appears in the UbiSoft/Fox Interactive video game Beneath the Planet of Apes.
Planet of the Apes introduced Lucius, Zira’s teenage nephew, as an archetypical rebellious youth. He resented authority and was willing to help Zira and Cornelius lead Taylor away from slavery. Buck Kartalian played this character alongside Cool Hand Luke (1967) and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). Unfortunately, he died in 2016.
Lucius and Nova were attacked while fleeing Ape City when they encountered a group of apes who shot them from behind, only saved when Dr. Zaius came with food and horses to keep them. Dr. Zaius convinced the apes to leave, but they attacked again shortly after. They found a cave Cornelius identified as one of the earlier human levels from one of the scrolls. At the same time, Lucius disproved this theory because you can never trust older people. Eventually leaving Ape City and heading towards civilization ruins, edited and syndicated by Sandy Frank for television broadcast by CBS in 1987.
Dr. Zaius is an intelligent and manipulative orangutan and the leader of the ape community. He has been monitoring Taylor, whom he perceives to be an uprising against the order of simian supremacy, and spying on humans to see if any secrets have been hidden about their civilization. When Dr. Zaius saw Taylor write her message in the sand, he erased it immediately before having Landon lobotomized and planning to do the same with Taylor.
Planet of the Apes was not simply an adventure film – it also served as a social commentary on intolerance and prejudice. Released at a politically turbulent period for America – the Vietnam War being waged and protests against civil rights violations happening frequently – Michael Wilson wrote his script with this in mind to highlight social anxieties such as civil rights violations by including an unfair court system in his screenplay and by discussing issues of class and race in his dialogues.
Linda Harrison played Nova in Planet of the Apes; she was born in 1945 in Maryland and began as a model before winning a beauty contest that caught the attention of 20th Century Fox talent scouts. Following that win, she appeared in several television and movie projects before landing Planet of the Apes — though production had to be temporarily put on hold. At the same time, she was pregnant at filming time.
One factor contributing to the delay was the lengthy make-up process required of actors. It took over two hours for cast and crew to put on all necessary make-up – including masks that covered every inch of each actor’s face – including liquid food through straws or smoking using an official cigarette holder; this caused issues with continuity during filming that needed careful planning to remain on schedule.
Planet of the Apes was an immense success and remains a top-rated franchise, boasting five original films, one re-boot film, and an ongoing television series. This groundbreaking sci-fi classic has become a cultural icon and influence on science-fiction cinema in general. At the same time, many other films of its era have since faded in popularity and critical appreciation; Planet of the Apes still holds up well against competition from modern films of similar genres.