13 October 2007

Close-Up Blog-A-Thon: "Planet Of The Apes"

In honour of The House Next Door's Close-Up Blog-A-Thon, here's the close-up that shook my world at a very young age: the first appearance of a gorilla on horseback in Franklin J. Schaffner's original Planet Of The Apes (1968).

Up until this moment we're well-primed for something major: after listening to Charlton Heston's space age misanthrope George Taylor dismiss the human race to this flight recorder, badger his surviving fellow astronauts as they navigate a curiously habitable alien world, and make friendly with what Ash would call some "primitive screw heads" (excluding the stunning Nova, of course), a strange, forboding noise from the brush initiates mass panic. Suddenly, a relaxing skinny dip gives way to swishing blades, then mighty horses, then marching figures, which bring gun fire, hunting nets and then--

This guy!

Even though the premise is right there in the damned title, the simian soldier's entrance is still a stunner of a moment, rivaling even this film's notorious ending, IMHO. After literal dozens of viewings I still get that frisson of horror and enchantment when that a-rooooogah! horn blares from amidst Jerry Goldsmith's nerve-wracking percussion and the camera zooms in on this first reveal of John Chamber's astonishingly expressive makeup illusions--ushering in a too-brief wave of adult science fiction, fantasy, and horror cinema (along with Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Roger Vadim's Barbarella, and George A. Romero's Night Of The Living Dead that same year) and securing my hopeless geekdom for life.