Sunday, April 30, 2006

Planet Of The Apes Vs. Reality

There are certain television commercials that I can still vividly recall from my youth. One in particular hails from 1973. It was in colour (must have seen this at my grandparents', since our TV was B&W): a movie that looked freakish and violent. Freakish because the lighting was dark and everyone was made up like an ape, and violent because stuff was gettin' blowed up real good.

Our family didn't go to movies (yet), so the next day at recess I talked to my Ukranian friend about what I'd seen. "Sounds like Planet Of The Apes," he said. "There's been a couple of those movies. Last summer our family saw Beneath The Planet Of The Apes. Maybe that's the commercial you saw."

"I don't think so," I said. "This one was about a war of some kind. Maybe War On The Planet Of The Apes?"

He thought about it. Then his face lit up. "Oooo -- wait! How about: War Beneath The Planet of the Apes?!"

I was awe-struck. The two of us stared silently at the grass, contemplating the incredible, layered weirdness we had unwittingly concocted. WAR (cool!) BENEATH (whoah, boy!) THE PLANET (this is getting intense, man...) OF THE APES(!!!)

The ad I'd seen was, in fact, for Battle For The Planet Of The Apes. I never saw it. I never saw the short-lived television series, or the even shorter-lived animated series, either. In fact, I was 21 years old before I saw the Charlton Heston movie. I loved it. Two years later, I saw Beneath The Planet Of The Apes -- cheesier, freakier, Apier. I loved it, too.

So when I saw this Collector's Set for the complete Planet Of The Apes on sale at Costco, the urge to buy was predictably strong. It's all there. Thirty-three years after that thunderous TV commercial, it can now be mine, all mine. Mine!

But what might I lose were I to buy it? These flashing, fragmentary images in my head that erupted when I considered the terrible potential of this "War Beneath The Planet Of The Apes" -- why should I want to replace that with reality? Mightn't it be akin to Tim Burton's remake: a re-vision adroitly realized, but somehow inferior to the inspiration?

So far, my money remains in my pocket...

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