BOOK REVIEW: PLANET OF THE APES: THE EVOLUTION OF A LEGEND / AUTHORS: JOE FORDHAM, JEFF BOND / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Planet of the Apes: The Evolution of a Legend is yet another fine addition to the re-emerging coffee table film reference book library. From its fur-like embossed cover, to the stunningly sharp behind the scenes pictures from the original Apes saga, this book simply screams quality.
After the requisite author introductions, and a heart-felt forward by John Landis (who had a very minor role in Battle for the Planet of the Apes) the book wastes no time in delving into the origins of one of the most beloved franchises of all time.
Beginning with Pierre Boulle’s novel Monkey Planet, which Planet of the Apes is adapted from, this book is full of fascinating facts including such nuggets as the fact that Boulle (whose other most well-known work is perhaps The Bridge on the River Kwai) considered Monkey Planet to be amongst his lesser works, and that POTA composer Jerry Goldsmith thought the film so bizarre that he insisted upon wearing an ape mask during the first day of conducting the score.
Naturally the bias is on the original Planet of the Apes movie which is discussed at some length. The concept art is gorgeous and reveals how the famous hunt scene was originally to feature apes flying helicopters rather than being on horseback. The sequels, however, have less time devoted to them. This is a shame as all the films have their merits and you can’t help but wonder at what a wasted opportunity this was as it left me hungry for more. The subsequent live action and animated TV series’ fare little better.
As you would expect the ground breaking make-up has a large section devoted to it and, surprisingly, so too does the music to both the classic and modern movies.
The book continues by looking at the expansion of the franchise into merchandise, potential projects that never came to pass and the successful but often derided Tim Burton reboot.
Dawn and Rise of the Planet of the Apes round off the proceedings and along with more beautiful concept art, reveal the extent of just how pivotal Andy Serkis, and the other performance capture artists, were in bringing the apes to life. There’s also a very surprising revelation on the genesis of the idea that became Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Whilst there may be more comprehensive works available detailing the making this simian-based franchise, none can possibly look as handsome as this particular volume. Written in a conversational yet informative manner this is a book that can be read from cover to cover, or dipped into as when the mood strikes. Either way this is a book that will always have you reaching for it as you browse your bookcase.