Given my previous advice to watch 1968 (the original Planet of the Apes movie, but because of the Tim Burton film in 2001 bearing the same name, it will be called 1968), I would hope you – the reader – have watched it by now. Now in my mind you have completed this task and moved on to the next movie in the series chronologically, Beneath the Planet of the Apes (hereafter Beneath) in 1970. My comparison / contrast depends on this hypothesis.
Beneath is totally a watchable film, although it suffers some of the same downfalls of being a sequel, in my experience. Prior to The Empire Strikes Back I can say I never saw a worthwhile sequel. The ending of both “Empire” and Beneath” share a fair amount of depression factors, actually. The ending is dark. Dark! Spoilers for both: things end badly but turn out to be not so bad. Beneath doesn’t comment so much on racism as class struggle, but it has a lot to say about organized religion. That’ll be my focus.
(Don’t summarize the movie. Don’t summarize the movie.)
In Beneath, we meet a new main character name Brent, who somehow found his way through the exact same wormhole in time as his predecessor, Taylor. I think one could look s this as basically an impossibility; I kind of love the idea that this posits that man’s fate is predetermined. Given that in our country today, we aren’t changing our behaviors we are likewise fated. However unlikely the future may be makes it harder to understand, but that doesn’t change it’s certainty. As far as symbolism, the name Brent itself means (according to Wikipedia):
Brent is an Old English place name and surname. The place name can be from Celtic words meaning “holy one”
In Beneath we also meet a race of telepathic mutants who have somehow survived, even thrived, despite the massive damage caused by mankind’s destructive tendencies. They are disturbing images of what They live beneath the surface (ha! got it!!) and have the power to speak but choose not to because of speech’s crudeness. We find that these mutants worship a bomb – essentially a nuke – that is their religion. I think one of the things that usually goes unsaid is that when you belong to some form of organized religion, you become a part of the crowd and can lose your own identity.Beneath attempts to obscurely call it the Doomsday Bomb. Brent is the holy one and he meets mutants who worship the bomb – blatant symbolism, blatant I say!! Nuclear arms were a huge topic of tense conversation at that time and continue to be today. And isn’t it to our surprise that it seems that people are willing to follow anyone – religiously – these days? To the point of fascism!?
Both Beneath and current events frequently both tell the same story. One class of people will always have power over the other. For example, just yesterday 5,300 Wells Fargo employees were fired over 2 million phony accounts, while their CEO, John Stumpf, was quoted as simply saying, “I am deeply sorry that we failed to fulfill our responsibility to our customers,” at a senate meeting he testified over. He even says, “I accept full responsibility.” I don’t think that he does, he is just saying something because he got caught, he didn’t lose his job, all the lowest-level employees did. I am fairly certain they didn’t all just come up with the idea to create fake accounts separately and independently, to the tune of 2 million accounts. These corporate apologies don’t actually mean a thing, he isn’t taking any money out of his pocket to make it right, he is in the class of people who try to trick the public into thinking words are actions.In our current party system of government, it seems to me that the only way we could ever have even-handed change debate would be if everyone has the same amount of money and the same social status. We know that will never happen.
Maybe Taylor is right, maybe the only way to end class struggle would be to blow up the world.
NEXT TIME: Oh, by the way, did you notice we are evolving into the planet of the apes. Great. This is part three. Coming soon!