There had been plenty of movies about Indians before 1968, but the original Planet of the Apes enthralled audiences because it dealt metaphorically with a more relevant topic: black power.
Why did white audiences come to prefer movies about blacks to movies about Indians? Perhaps because blacks are more entertaining (…)
It’s not just me who sees the Planet franchise as traditionally being an allegory about blacks and whites. Sammy Davis Jr. considered the original Planet of the Apes the best film ever about black-white relations, and is said to have enshrined the eight-foot-tall prop statue of the primordial primate Lawgiver in his Beverly Hills backyard. (After Sammy died $5 million in debt to the IRS, the feds foreclosed upon the fiberglass figurine and auctioned it off for $2,500.)
In the first Planet of the Apes, Charlton Heston, the ultimate white man, is thrown into a world where monkeys are the Man and he is reduced to the status of an angry black radical. In Rod Serling’s screenplay, gorillas are the Irish cops, orangutans the conservative WASP ruling class, and chimpanzees the liberal Jewish intellectuals who are Heston’s only hope.
Heston famously noticed:
” … an instinctive segregation on the set. Not only would the apes eat together, but the chimpanzees ate with the chimpanzees, the gorillas ate with the gorillas, the orangutans ate with the orangutans, and the humans would eat off by themselves. It was quite spooky.”