AN EMPIRE OF ONE

If you don't think the world's weird, you're not paying attention.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes is  a film about an insurrection in the contemporary United States of America (USA). However, this is an insurrection of apes against humans, not an insurrection of humans against humans. The ape series ventured into this territory before with the 1972 Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, a film which evoked the racial tensions and riots of the Sixties. The original cut of that film was apparently considered a bit too violent so it was cut and its ending reworked. (The original version was recently released on Blu-Ray.)

Now we have Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Is this film really nothing more than a story about mistreated animals getting their revenge against the humans who mistreated them, or are the apes stand-ins, proxies for the mistreated humans of our own world? Could a film about an insurrection in the USA today be made not with simians, but with undisguised human actors revolting against other humans? Could that human revolt be shown as sympathetically as this film depicts the revolt of the apes? Is this film a cynical move to exploit people’s anger at and frustrations with the current political and economic conditions by offering us, for the price of admission, a proxy revolt?

Perhaps the inevitable sequel will answer some of these questions. Then again, perhaps not.

UPDATE (8/16/11): An answer to at lest one of these questions was suggested by the contrasting reactions to, on the one hand, the film and, on the other hand, the London riots which occurred the weekend the film was released in the USA. A relatively minor example can be read here.

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Written by David Kilmer

August 4, 2011 at 12:49 am

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