Behind The Planet of the Apes (Special Collector's Edition) Review

As a bonus, the brilliant Planet Of The Apes documentary Behind The Planet of the Apes was included on both Regions of the Apes Box Set by Fox Entertainment. However, the documentary has also been given its own release, as a two-disc set packed with other Apes extras that never made the Box Set. Obviously, it's only a necessary purchase for the ultra-die-hard fans of the Apes legacy, and should be treated as nothing more than a top-up of extras for those disappointed with the mostly bare-bones treatment of the Apes Box Set.

Behind The Planet Of The Apes: This two-hour documentary is excellent, chronicling the Apes series from initial premise all the way through to the TV Series. Hosted by the charismatic Roddy McDowall and featuring extensive interviews with every important cast and crewmember, Behind The Planet Of The Apes is an informative guide for fans to the behind-the-scenes proceedings that helped produce five films and a follow-on television series. Featuring extensive footage of on-location sets and makeup tests, the documentary is given full access to probe into the series' making. Featured even is noted Apes scholar Eric Greene, whose book Planet Of The Apes As American Myth, draws comparisons between the Apes films and social events occurring in sixties/seventies' USA. This is especially convincing when studying Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes, where Greene draws comparisons with the racial riots of the late sixties. At two hours in length, Behind The Planet Of The Apes conquers much ground, and unfortunately skims the surface on a few events. Still, as a companion piece to the Apes series this documentary is the ultimate extra.

Planet Of The Apes: NATO Presentation: This is a streamlined, summarised version of the film that was presented to NATO in 1967 as a form of a presentation. Featuring a sort of narration from Charlton Heston that isn't in the film, and different musical score, this is actually quite interesting to watch for those so used to the main feature. Only scenes from the first half of the movie are chosen, and the feature feels like a chronologically extended trailer. The runtime is ten minutes.

Planet Of The Apes Original Featurette: This is the original featurette to accompany the first film, and is quite valuable despite being just over four minutes in length. Many behind-the-scenes footage is incorporated into the mix, along with a demonstration of the makeup and some detail storyboard designs. Presented in fullscreen.

1966 Makeup Test With Edward G. Robinson: This is another fascinating feature that renders this DVD release very collectable. Provided in full is the original fully-scripted makeup test in which Charlton Heston played the human Thomas (later to become Taylor in the finished film) and Edward G. Robinson appeared as Dr. Zaius. James Brolin and Linda Harrison appear as Cornelius and Zire respectively. This scripted test was designed to prove to investors and studios alike that actors could convincingly portray apes on screen, and this test achieves its aim. Edward G. Robinson would later drop out of the film because his heart could not withstand the makeup. Maurice Evans eventually replaced Robinson. What's also highly fascinating is that the producers have framed a storyboard-driven plot around the test sequence, and so we are treated to how Planet Of The Apes looked in its embryonic stages. The storyboards are excellent, and could serve as a comic book. The full test and storyboards last for nine minutes.

A Look Behind The Planet Of The Apes: This is a thirteen minute featurette designed for the 1972 release of Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes, and contains a couple of minutes devoted to the behind-the-scenes footage of the four films made at that time. Picture quality is excessively grainy, but that's always been a big factor in an old featurette's charm. Most of the footage shown here has been repeated elsewhere on the disc.

Don Taylor Directs Escape From The Planet Of The Apes: This is a seven minute featurette that is mostly a mixture of footage from the making of the film and an interview with its director Don Taylor. Unfortunately the footage is culled mostly from the sequence involving Ricardo Montalban, which doesn't actually feature any apes.

J. Lee Thompson Directs Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes: This only lasts for a minute, and looks to have been transferred from a poor quality VHS recording. Rather than being a featurette, this is actually just a minutes' worth of on-set footage, and is practically unwatchable as the sound is so full of hiss its inaudible.

Behind The Planet Of The Apes Promo: This is a tense two minute promo for the feature-length documentary.

Original Trailers: The five original trailers from the films are included here, in non-anamorphic widescreen.

Interview With Roddy McDowall (Unedited): The second disc of the Behind The Planet Of The Apes set features a lengthy two-hour interview with the late Roddy McDowall, who played Cornelius, Caesar and Galen in the films and TV Series respectively. Although it would have been better if the interview was edited in a slick fashion with overlays from the relevant films, it's still fascinating viewing to watch probably the most authoritative figure of the Apes saga reveal as many anecdotes as he can remember. Such subjects mentioned are along the lines of how McDowall came to be involved in the films through his friend Arthur Jacobs, or indeed how other directors such as Blake Edwards were originally associated with the project. Most importantly however, McDowall discusses the innovative makeup techniques that were employed, and what it felt like to endure the long hours of makeup sessions. The unedited style of the interview is slightly annoying - the interviewer does not have a mike so its hard to ascertain what he is actually saying, and there are many pauses and jump cuts littered throughout the interview. Still, it's a fantastic bonus, especially as McDowall is no longer with us.

Dailies & Outtakes: This is a twenty minute of dailies and outtakes culled from the first Apes film. Backed with portions of Jerry Goldsmith's breathtaking score, this is of little interest as most of the footage presented found its way into the actual movie. As there is no dialogue to be heard, parts are quite boring to watch. Presented in non-anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen.

Easter Egg: Leave the menu on the second disc going for long enough and you will be treated to a strange Ape recreation that lasts for forty-five seconds.


As most Apes fans will already own the excellent Behind The Planet Of The Apes documentary because of the Apes Box Set, then the only real value is spread over the extras. To be fair, only the most obsessive of fans of the saga will find anything of value here, but if you admit to being a die-hard fan of all things Planet Of The Apes then this will fulfil the completist desires. It's annoying that these extras were not released on the Apes Box Set, and once can only assume that they became available after its release, and so Fox released it through an arrangement with Image Entertainment so as to not anger fans who could accuse Fox of exploiting them.

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