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August 11, 2011

‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’: 21 nods to classic ‘Apes’

Posted in: Movies

caesar Rise of the Planet of the Apes: 21 nods to classic Apes

Caesar from "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." (20th Century Fox)

Charlton Heston died in 2008, but the Academy Award winner gets a few seconds of screen time in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this summer’s prequel to the sci-fi franchise Heston launched in 1968. Heston’s moment — a quick shot of his 1965 movie “The Agony and the Ecstasy” playing on a TV screen at a nasty kennel for apes — is just the most obvious of dozens of references to the earlier “Apes” films embedded in “Rise,” a deliberate bid by screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver to acknowledge the great hairy history of the film series.

“We felt from the beginning we need to create a story that could stand on its own and totally separate from the ‘Planet of the Apes’ series, but we wanted to pay honor to the originals,” said Jaffa, whose script is the seventh in the franchise inspired by French author Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel about a planet where hyper-intelligent apes rule over human slaves. “We tried to do that in various ways– in winks and nods—but on a bigger level, we put a great amount of effort into building from the mythology of the earlier movies.”

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” stars James Franco as Will Rodman, a young scientist seeking a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and Andy Serkis as Caesar, the clever chimp borne of that research. Fans of the series will notice dozens of Easter eggs Jaffa and Silver planted in the film with the help of its director, Rupert Wyatt.

For “Apes” diehards, here’s a guide to many of the references–and for the uninitiated, be warned, we’re willing to spoil any movie that opened before the Carter administration:

bridge Rise of the Planet of the Apes: 21 nods to classic Apes

Caesar leads a revolution in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." (Weta Digital/20th Century Fox)

1. Will Rodman: Franco’s character’s name, is an amalgamation of the names of the screenwriters for the 1968 film, “Twilight Zone” icon Rod Serling (whose full name was Rodman) and Michael Wilson.

2. Caesar: The name of the lead ape in “Rise,” played by Serkis, was the name of the chimp played by Roddy McDowall who leads the ape revolution in 1972’s “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.”

3. ALZ 112: The breakthrough Alzheimer’s treatment Rodman creates is a timely nod to the past — 112 minutes is the running time for the original film.

planet of the apes 1968 apes 3 Rise of the Planet of the Apes: 21 nods to classic Apes

"Planet of the Apes" from 1968 (Fox)

4. Icarus: A TV newscast playing in the background references the space mission “Icarus, lead by George Taylor,” and a newspaper shown in the third act reveals the vessel has been lost in space. Icarus was the name of the spaceship that crashes on the “Planet of the Apes” in the original film, and  Heston’s character name was George Taylor.

5. Dodge Landon: The cruel ape tender played by Hogwarts alumnus Tom Felton is named after Dodge, who was a crew member aboard the Icarus and played by Jeff Burton.

6. John Landon: Brian Cox plays the dark-spirited owner of a primate house and the father of Felton’s malicious character. Their last name, Landon, is the name of the Icarus crew member played by Robert Gunner in the classic film.

7. Maurice: The name of the orangutan who befriends Caesar in the new film is a nod to actor Maurice Evans,  who played the orangutan Dr. Zaius in the vintage films.

conquest of the planet of the apes Rise of the Planet of the Apes: 21 nods to classic Apes8. Saddle up: The scene where Caesar emerges from swirling fog astride a mounted policeman’s horse is a nod to the signature early moment in the first film when Heston is shocked to see an ape wearing clothes and riding on horseback.

9.  Buck: The big gorilla’s name is a nod to actor Buck Kartalian, the former pro wrestler who played Julius in the classic.

10. Nova’s Café:  The coffee shop in the lobby of the biomedical company Gen-Sys is named after Linda Harrison’s character, Nova, who becomes the mate of Heston’s character and appeared in the first two “Apes” films.

11. The Golden Gate Bridge: The scene evokes the scene in “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” when apes charge across a bridge in the climax of the 1972 film. 

12. Rocket: The mean ape who makes peace with Caesar after a cookie moment gets his name from Norman Rockett, a set decorator on the 1968 movie.

13. No means no:  Caesar’s powerfully enunciated “No!” is a major moment in the new film and ties back into “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” when Cornelius explains that the ascent and revolt by his species began when an ape first uttered the word “No” to protest the human treatment of his kind.    

14. Cornelia:: The name of another ape in the new movie, Cornelia, is a nod to McDowall’s role as Cornelius in the original film.

linda hamilton and charlton heston in apes Rise of the Planet of the Apes: 21 nods to classic Apes

Linda Harrison and Charlton Heston in their "Apes" days (Fox)

15. Jacobs: David Oyelowo plays the mercenary bio-med executive Steven Jacobs in the new film. The character’s name (which is written on a board by one of the chimps at one point in the film) is a tribute to Arthur P. Jacobs, who produced the “Apes” films in the 1960s and 1970s. Jacobs, who had heart problems, died at age 51 in 1973 not long after the fourth sequel was released.

16.  Hosed: When Dodge blasts Caesar with a water hose, it’s a nod to Heston’s character being hosed in the ’68 film — which in turn was a reference to police attacking civil rights demonstrators in the real world.

17. Bright Eyes: In the original film, it’s the nickname given to Heston’s character by the ape scientist Zira. In the new film, it’s the nickname given to the intellect-accelerated ape who gives birth to Caesar.   

18. Statue of Liberty: Before he attacks a neighbor, Caesar is constructing a model of the Statue of Liberty in his suburban San Francisco home. It is, of course, the sight of that statue demolished on a beach that reveals the true setting of the 1968 film is actually far-future Earth.

19. Linda: The lab assistant named Linda in the new film is another nod to Harrison, who played Nova in the vintage movies.

20. Franklin: Taylor Labine plays Robert Franklin, a heartfelt lab worker who is destined to play an ominous role in human history. The character’s name acknowledges Frankin Schaffner, who directed the 1968 “Apes” movie and went on to direct “Patton,” “Papillon” and “The Boys from Brazil.”  

21. Had to say it: Felton’s character, Dodge, gets the honor or delivering two of Heston’s most memorable lines from the 1968 film: “It’s a madhouse! A madhouse!” and “Take your stinkin’ paw off me you damn dirty ape!”

–Rebecca Keegan



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