When the original Planet of the Apes was released in 1968, producers couldn’t have guessed how popular their mold-breaking film would become. The film and its sequels have been spelled plenty of box office success and a new wave of TV and comic book adaptations.
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. It stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison. The film tells the story of an astronaut crew who crash-lands on a strange planet in the distant future. Although the planet appears desolate at first, the surviving crew members stumble upon a society in which apes have evolved into creatures with human-like intelligence and speech. The apes have assumed the role of the dominant species and humans are mute creatures wearing animal skins.
The screenplay by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling was loosely based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des Singes by Pierre Boulle. Jerry Goldsmith composed the groundbreaking avant-garde score.
The Statue of Liberty Scene is one of those scenes that’ so iconic, even people who haven’t ever seen the movie know what it is. In many ways, it’s a pity that it is so well-known. We can only imagine the impact that this had on audiences back in the day when they had no idea what was coming. Even now, it stands up as a solid moment and it truly is one of the most iconic scenes in science fiction movie history.
You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!
– George Taylor
It was during the early script revisions that the idea for the famous ending to Planet of the Apes was devised.
“We were trying to make the audience believe it was another planet, which differs from Boulle’s novel in which it WAS another planet. I thought that was rather predictable when we were doing the first screenplay. It’s funny, I was having lunch with Blake Edwards, who at one point was going to direct it, at the Yugo Kosherarna Delicatessen in Burbank, across the street from Warner Brothers. I said to him at the time. ‘It doesn’t work, it’s too predictable.’ Then I said, ‘What if he was on the earth the whole time and doesn’t know it, and the audience doesn’t know it.’ Blake said, ‘That’s terrific. Let’s get a hold of Rod.’ As we walked out, after paying for the two ham sandwiches, we looked up, and there’s this big Statue of Liberty on the wall of the delicatessen. We both looked at each other and said, ‘Rosebud’ (the key to the plot of ‘Citizen Kane’). If we never had lunch in that delicatessen, I doubt that we would have had the Statue of Liberty as the end of the picture. I sent the finished script to Boulle, and he wrote back, saying he thought it was more inventive than his own ending, and wished that he had thought of it when he wrote the book.”
– Producer Arthur P. Jacobs.
The exact location and state of decay of the Statue of Liberty changed over several storyboards. One version depicted the statue buried up to its nose in the middle of a jungle while another depicted the statue in pieces. The remains of the Statue of Liberty were shot in a secluded cove on the far eastern end of Westward Beach, between Zuma Beach and Point Dume in Malibu.
As noted in the documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes, the special effect shot of the half-buried statue was achieved by seamlessly blending a matte painting with existing cliffs. The shot looking down at Taylor was done from a 21 meter (70-foot) scaffold, angled over a 1/2-scale papier-mache model of the Statue.