Ape first, human second

The new film from the Planet of the Apes franchise, directed by Matt Reeves, shows a very common trend these days: focus and attention on nonhuman beings to the detriment of the human species. The film, called The Planet of the Apes: The War, is the third film in the sequence of productions that began with Planet of the Apes: The Origin, directed by Rupert Wayatt in 2011. However, it is the ninth film of the franchise beginning in the years 1968 and even counts with television series and animation. The difference between 60s and 60s films reveals much more than differences in style: it exposes changes in how the human being sees himself in the world.

The first film was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, inspired by the book of the same name by Frenchman Pierre Boulle. Performed by Charlton Heston, the film told the story of a group of astronauts arriving at a strange planet where monkeys are intelligent and humans are almost like animals, unable to speak or reason in complex ways.

We quickly identify with Taylor, the character of Heston who, as a human being, is hunted down and trapped to serve the primates. However, Taylor quickly gains notoriety since he is the only human who can speak. At the same time, it becomes a threat to ruling monkeys, who are carriers of a secret they try to forget. At the end of the movie, the secret is revealed: Taylor’s ship had never reached a distant planet, but returned to Earth itself in a remote future where humans had destroyed themselves in wars long ago. Without having the human obstacle, the primates evolve naturally, becoming the smartest species and inheriting control of the planet.

Although it is clear that the shadowy future is the fault of humans, the film is told from the man’s point of view in Taylor’s eyes. Thus, the human species can still be redeemed. Represented by Heston, the present human being is good and noble. Your species may have self-annihilated, but this does not mean that its individuals are not heroic and down-to-earth. What’s more, the cruelty of most monkeys contrasts sharply with the goodness of the protagonist. The human species, although represented by only one man, carries unequaled and altruistic qualities in the face of the threatening environment.

Current movies change these features completely. Taking as a starting point the moment at which monkeys acquire intelligence, the 2011 film does not give the primate a natural evolution, but a rapid development caused by the human being through a serum that ends up giving the primates the tool to get rid of human caprices If in the first film the intelligence of men redeems Taylor and, with him, the human species, here intelligence, not war, causes its defeat.

The new film continues this trend. Now, history is no longer counted from the human point of view, but from the point of view of Caesar, the first monkey to gain intelligence. There is no person capable of redeeming his kind. We identify with primates as heroes and with no one else. The film, which will please the public with exciting scenes and special effects of the latest generation, gives us, however, a cynical view of humanity, which has no qualities that can save it. It is a sad worldview, but unfortunately it becomes more and more common.

(article translated from the original version in portuguese, by Google Translate)

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