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Retrospective: Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

1970's Beneath the Planet of the Apes was a moderate success - commercially and critically, enough so for a third entry into the series. In Escape from the Planet of the Apes, the dynamic of the series changes - instead of humans finding the ape planet, apes escape their 'future' earth and return to 1970s human ruled earth.

The concept of the characters Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and Zira (Kim Hunter) leading the film and the huge plot change made me slightly skeptical before watching. However, after seeing the film I've since become a die-hard fan, regarding it as one the best entries into the series. It's by far the campest and most unconventional entry into the series but still manages to provide a dark, real social commentary.

The relationship between Cornelius and Zira is incredibly believable with dialogue like "Interviewer: Does the other one talk? Cornelius: Only when she let's me!" It's a cute and could even be considered a bit of a romantic comedy, showing how the pair adapt to human life - for example, seeing Zira clothes shopping or having a bubble bath. This combined with an upbeat 70's soundtrack from Jerry Goldsmith, really gives the film a camp charm. However, the film does explore darker territory; commenting on xenophobia, animal testing, nuclear war and governmental power. We also see the idea of female empowerment discussed!  

With appearances from Ricardo Montalban (who becomes important to the series) , Bradford Dillman and Sal Mineo, this new direction is a bold move for the series and generally pays of. Escape also has one of the most devastating, heart-breaking ends to any film that I've seen (which I'm not going to spoil). 

The combination of more light hearted elements and the development on the relationship of Cornelius and Zira is excellent, as well as just enough social commentary and plot twists, to make it one of the series' best. 

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