Thursday, October 27, 2011
By the time 1972 came around we were good and fed up with the Vietnam War. We were sick of minority oppression and we were slowly discovering that the United States political system was completely corrupt and led by a popular - albeit crooked - president who eventually embitters and almost single handedly destroys a nation already embroiled in domestic and global violence while struggling with crazy out of control inflation. News was peppered by outrageous stories like that rugby team resorting to cannibalism to survive after their airplane crashed into the Andes Mountains.
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes hit audiences like a visceral blow to the solar plexus. Never mind its already built-in sequel cache. This was a film ripe for revolution - serious and violent. The opposite of its predecessor, Escape From the Planet of the Apes, but a fitting sequel/prequel/dystopian nightmare (that is if you were a human; to an ape it was verging utopian).
I first saw the film's poster hanging in the lobby of the Tivoli Theater in Downers Grove, IL about two weeks before its release on June 30, 1972. I spent those next two weeks in a hyper pre-adolescent rage, rambling endlessly about what I thought the film was to be based on my impressions inspired by that poster.
I wasn't entirely right in my predictions about the movie. After seeing it, I didn't grasp (on the surface anway) its political and humanistic implications. I saw it as an action film first and foremost. I related to the apes and saw it wholly from their perspective.
Now? As a human being, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is terrifying.