That started to change with the release of 's Planet of the Apes. The movie, starring Charlton Heston and directed by Franklin J.
Rod Serling's Planet of the Apes" originally appeared in the July-August issue of Creative Screenwritingand is reproduced here by permission of the author.
For more than two years, Serling, who had earned a solid reputation as a television writer, struggled with the task of adapting this complex story for the big screen. For the next two years, producer Arthur P.
Jacobs worked to raise enough funding for what had developed into a very expensive project. Before filming began, another experienced writer, Michael Wilson, was brought in to work on the script.
Wilson, whose career suffered through the blacklisting of the McCarthy era, had written many excellent film scripts including It's A Wonderful Life and A Place in the Sun —some uncredited until recently such as Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia.
Finally, in earlyPlanet of the Apes was released, with both Wilson and Serling sharing screen credit. The film adaptation of Boulle's novel opened to mostly favorable reviews: I found it one of the most fascinating and entertaining films I've seen in a long time. This analysis chronicles the transformation of Planet of the Apes from the printed page to the screen comparing Boulle's novel with a dozen versions of the script held in the Rod Serling Archive as well as Wilson's commercially available shooting script and the home video release of the film.
Adapting the Original Story Pierre Boulle's futuristic novel Planet of the Apes begins with a fascinating introduction: The bottle contains a manuscript through which the novel's story is told, in a diary written by a futuristic French astronaut named Ulysee Merou, who had landed on a planet where humans are mute, and are treated like animals by civilized, talking apes.
He'd Apes test captured by a gorilla hunting party and taken to a Simian city where his main antagonist is an orangutan named Dr. For the remainder of the book, the main character tries to make sense of this "upside-down" society—and in the process, Boulle raises such issues as balance of power, racism, the role of government, and evolution.
Eventually, the protagonist, with the help of two friendly ape-scientists; escapes and flies back home, where—after landing at Orly Airport—his craft is met by a truck being driven by a gorilla.
Merou's story ends here, but the novelist delivers a final twist after the two travelers finish reading the "message-in-a-bottle: Phyllis, after dismissing a last shred of doubt with an energetic shake of her velvety ears, took out her compact and, in view of their return to port, touched up her dear little chimpanzee muzzle.
Mort Abrahams, associate producer for Planet, is the only member of the film's senior production team still living. In a interview, he recalled Serling's first draft of the screenplay: It was a very difficult adaptation, and getting to the essence of the plot—translating it from Boulle's novel—was very, very difficult I mean, three or four drafts is nothing!
It was pretty well complete by the time it got into Frank's hands [director Franklin Schaffner]. Frank just loved it right from the beginning—and really made only very minor changes, mostly a little dialog here and there.
Although the novelist had achieved a clever ending, it represents a clear example of the challenge a writer faces in the screen adaptation of a novel. Boulle's "twist" is achieved by carefully withholding information from the reader; we don't know until the last few words that Jinn and Phyllis-who begin reading Merou's diary on page one of the novel-were apes all along!
Serling had tried a similar effect in a Twilight Zone episode where a young woman, portrayed as hopelessly deformed, undergoes surgery in an attempt to correct her abnormal appearance. In Eye of the Beholder; her face is bandaged throughout, and by careful use of camera angles and other visual techniques, Serling hides the physical appearance of doctors, nurses, and other characters.
The position of the bedlight throws the far end of the room in shadows so that all we can see of the nurse is that of an angular, tall silhouette, her face invisible. By the time the bandages are finally taken off, we're prepared for a resolution to the protagonist's conflict, but instead-as the nurses and doctors gasp in horror-Serling delivers an unexpected visual twist: Noses, eyes, mouths, ears, everything, almost as if they were cartoons; almost as if they were some caricature drawings come to life.
However, the program's format required him to sustain his illusion for only about twenty-three minutes of script; pulling off this same kind of gimmick in a two-hour theatrical feature would be nearly impossible.
So, Serling modified Boulle's basic premise to feature a team of American astronauts led by Thomas, the script's protagonist changed to "Taylor" in the film and portrayed by Charlton Heston. And while in the novel a "mother ship" is left orbiting safely around the planet while the explorers land in a kind of shuttlecraft, Serling places the protagonists in immediate peril by having their ship sucked underground by a sort of quicksand.
This provides the "inciting incident" which is necessary to set up a good movie story: There's nothing left for the characters to do except to begin exploring their new home, and this is where critics, such as Joseph Morgenstern of Newsweek started taking shots at the story: No sooner do Heston and his crewmen scramble from the wreckage of their spaceship than they start jabbering about man's innate badness or goodness.
Finally stopping to take a rest-they begin to argue about the importance of their "mission. But he makes sense. He'd walk naked into a live volcano if he thought he could learn something no other man knew.
I understand why he's here. You thought life on Earth was meaningless. So what did you do? Taylor's eyes are closed. He is silent for a moment.product description. contains: planet of the apes (), beneath the planet of the apes (), escape from the planet of the apes (), conquest of the planet of the apes (), battle for the planet of the apes () & behind the plaet of the apes( amc documentary).
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Mark Maslin is a Professor at University College London, a Royal Society Industrial Fellow.