The audience is clearly intended to sympathize with Caesar, and the implicit endorsement of revolutionary black power—coming, as it does, from a major Hollywood studio—is striking. (Contemporary reviewers pointed out that black audiences drowned out much of the dialogue by cheering "Right on!" right through the screenings.) Still, it's unpleasant to see chimps telling black men that they, of all people, should understand the monkey's lot. The implication is that human rights, having trickled down from whites to blacks, will continue to work their way down the evolutionary ladder. No wonder placards reading "NAACP: Planet of the Apes" became fixtures at white supremacist rallies. And no wonder the executives behind Burton's remake shied away from the original's racial and political overtones.
But the Planet of the Apes movies succeeded, in no small measure, because they tapped into the terrific pressures of their time. Given that history, it'll be interesting to see which analogies Burton embraces and which he ignores. If he turns away from all of them, very little of the original movies—aside from hairy prosthetics—may be left.
TODAY IN SLATE
False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Why Men Can Never Remember Anything
The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B
How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
The Other Huxtable Effect
Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.