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“Ape shall never kill ape."

Cast: Roddy McDowall (Caesar), Claude Akins (Aldo), Natalie Trundy (Lisa), Severn Darden (Kolp), Lew Ayres (Mandemus), Paul Williams (Virgil), Austin Stoker (MacDonald), Noah Keen (Abe), Richard Eastham (Mutant Captain), France Nuyen (Alma), Paul Stevens (Mendez), Heather Lowe (Doctor), Bobby Porter (Cornelius), Michael Stearns (Jake), Cal Wilson (Soldier), Pat Cardi (Young Chimp), John Landis (Jake’s Friend), Andy Knight (Mutant on Motorcycle), John Huston (Lawgiver).

Story by Paul Dehn. Screenplay by John William Corrington and Joyce Hooper Corrington. Directed by J. Lee Thompson.

 STORY:

In the year 2670, and an aged orangutan reads from a scroll, the story he tells is of Caesar, who 10 years after leading the enslaved apes to freedom, has set up the first city of the apes, human civilisation has been overthrown and the cities of the world have turned to dust in a nuclear war.

It is 2001, and in Caesar’s city, humans, while not being laid as low as their former slaves, are the servants in the new pecking order.

Caesar while being the leader of the apes, has left his militant ways behind him and is trying to shape a new world. He is now a husband to Lisa, and they have a son, Cornelius.

While Caesar tries to preach living in harmony with their former masters, the gorilla General Aldo, whose ambition far outweighs his intelligence, opposes him. If he had his way every human in the city would be dead! 

When Caesar questions his own leadership, MacDonald, the brother of the man who saved Caesar from electrocution, tells the chimp that he can hear the answers to his questions from his own parents Cornelius and Zira, whose testimony was preserved on tapes in the archives of the old city.

Caesar mounts an expedition to the city, taking with him his best friend, the orangutan Virgil and MacDonald, they are armed with weapons from the ape armoury, which is guarded by ‘Caesar’s conscience, the orangutan Mandemus.

Nuclear missiles have melted the city, and the two apes and human must find the archives below it before they get a lethal dose of radiation.

Finding the archives and the tapes of Cornelius and Zira, Caesar learns that in the year 3950-something, apes will destroy the earth!

The explorers find they are being monitored, the city is not dead, and humans who are being mutated by the background radiation still live in the blasted remains.

Caesar, Virgil and MacDonald have to fight their way out of the city as the former Inspector Kolp, now the Governor, orders them to be captured or killed.

The trio return to Ape City and Caesar calls a council meeting to tell of his findings. General Aldo wants to attack the mutants, but is overruled by Caesar. Aldo is further incensed when humans are invited to the council to make plans should the mutants attack. Outraged, Aldo and his gorilla leave the council meeting.

Meanwhile, a mutant army has crawled out of the city ruins in any vehicle they can find and advance on the city of the apes.

Late at night, Caesar’s son Cornelius is feeding his pet squirrel, when it escapes from its cage, giving chase, the young chimp overhears General Aldo making plans to usurp his father’s leadership. Spotting Cornelius in a tree overhead, Aldo climbs towards the frightened young chimp, hacking at the branch Cornelius is perched on. The branch gives way and Cornelius falls to ground badly injuring himself.

Caesar and Lisa are distraught, and maintain a bedside vigil for their son who sadly dies, but not before telling Caesar that people want to hurt him. Virgil comes to Caesar to inform him Aldo has locked all the humans up in a compound and raided the armoury of its weapons.

Just as Caesar gets to the compound, demanding the humans’ release, the mutants attack and a fierce between the apes and mutants ensues. The apes are victorious, Aldo and his gorillas kill Kolp, and rest of the mutant survivors are allowed to return to their dead city.

Once again Caesar attempts to free the humans in the compound but is barred by Aldo, Virgil then lets it be known that he and MacDonald found a bayonet had cut the branch Cornelius fell from. Caesar realises Aldo is the one Cornelius said wants to hurt him, Aldo’s soldiers turn on their leader for he has broken the sacred law that ape shall not kill ape!

Enraged, Caesar backs the frightened general into the high branches of a tree, but this time it is Aldo who falls to his death.

Caesar wearily unlocks the gate to the compound holding the humans, but they refuse to leave. MacDonald tells the ape leader freedom means nothing if they are not treated as equals. Caesar takes this in and declares they will build a new city for everyone.

In 2670, the aged orangutan, which is in fact the Lawgiver mentioned in Planet and Beneath, finishes reading his story to an enthralled class of apes and humans. One little girl asks the Lawgiver who knows the future? He replies: “Perhaps only the dead.”

Not far away from the Lawgiver’s class, there is a statue of Caesar, a close-up revealing a single tear falling down a stone cheek.

 

COMMENT: Battle is really an enjoyable straight adventure story, with little of the subtext of the rest of the apes series. One nice touch though is the inclusion of the Lawgiver, it would seem that judging by the earlier films his teachings have been perverted somewhat, or has Caesar succeeded in changing the future of the planet? Does his statue cry with the joy that he has achieved his aim of humans and apes living together as exemplified in the Lawgiver’s class, or does he know that sometime in the future, a man named Taylor will land on the planet of the apes and the cycle will begin again?

 

TRIVIA:

· Battle’s budget was a measly $.1.2 million.

· There are actually two versions of the film! One version has a subplot in which Kolp orders the mutant girl Alma to detonate the Alpha/Omega bomb first seen in Beneath should he not return from the war with the apes. Mendez, Kolp’s aide, and the descendant of the mutant Mendez also from the second film, stays Alma’s hand when Kolp does not return.

· Yes, that really is future Blues Brothers director John Landis playing Jake’s friend.

· Producer Arthur P. Jacobs, the man who had the perseverance to bring Pierre Boulle’s story to the screen, died on June 27, 1973, of a heart attack, he was 51 years old.

 

- written by Peter Noble