Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Conquest for the Planet of the Apes, the fourth in the series, covers the ‘pre-history’ of the first movie, where the apes first start to gain some ascendancy in the world of humans. And like the first movie (and to a lesser degree the second) it actually strives to make a social statement AND does a decent job. Parallels are drawn between the apes struggle against slavery to humans and the struggle for civil rights of black people in America with the ape riot scene intended to imitate a famous riot in the sixties. The point is well made considering the censorship restrictions on violence and the touchy nature of the underlying subject matter – a topic well discussed today but not overtly talked about in 1972. The result is daring, well-made (the riot is stunning) and well-meaning, but sometimes a little clumsy.

Some fairly elementary things are overlooked, as well, such as the fact that in the first movie the apes were evolved by 2000 years thus excusing their very human bearing, but here, in the ‘future’ of 1991, they are just supposed to be apes with clothes on…doesn’t quite work.

All in all, though, an entertaining film and a good showcase for Roddy McDowall’s real acting abilities

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