With two weekends in a row at the top of the box office, it is safe to assume that Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is not just attracting fans of the classic science-fiction franchise to theaters. Those who are die hard Planet Of The Apes buffs who have seen the new film have probably caught a number of winks and nods to the original series that the filmmakers have slipped in.
The most obvious of these, of course, are two lines of dialogue uttered by the original film’s star Charlton Heston that actor Tom Felton gets to deliver at separate points – “It’s a madhouse! A madhouse!” and “Get your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!” But many of the other nods are not so obvious, so here is a guide to the various Easter eggs hidden within. Needless to say, there will be some spoilers below.
Many character names in the new film are derived from characters, actors and behind the scenes personnel from the original films.
Bright Eyes – Captured in Africa and brought to California for experimentation, the chimpanzee who will give birth to Rise’s hero Caesar is given the same name that chimp scientist Dr. Zira givens Charlton Heston’s character Taylor in the first film.
Steven Jacobs – The head of the research corporation where James Franco’s experiments were carried out is named after the original franchise’s producer Arthur P. Jacobs.
Dodge Landon – Tom Felton‘s sadistic son of the operator of the primate sanctuary that Caesar is forcibly sent to is named after the two members of Taylor’s crew who briefly survived their crash landing on the Planet of the Apes before being hunted down by gorillas – Landon (Robert Gunner) and Dodge (Jeff Burton).
Maurice – The former circus orangutan who Caesar befriends in the primate sanctuary is so named not because he speaks of the pompitous of love but in recognition of actor Maurice Evans, who played orangutan scientist Dr. Zaius in the first two Apes films.
Cornelia – Another resident of the primate sanctuary, her name is a feminization of chimpanzee scientist Cornelius played by Roddy McDowell in Planet Of The Apes and Escape From The Planet Of The Apes. (The role was played by David Watson in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes due to McDowell being in Scotland directing Tam Lin.)
Rodney – It has been speculated that the name of primate shelter worker Rodney is a nod to franchise star McDowell, who appeared in four of the five original films as well as the short-lived television series spinoff. However, McDowell’s full first name is actually Roderick. Equally tenuous would be the argument that it is a reference to Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, who did a majority of the work on the original Planet Of The Apes screenplay and contributor to the story for the second film, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, as his given first name is Rodman.
Callbacks To The Original Film
Beyond the name references in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, there are a few story moments that distinctly echo the original Planet Of The Apes film. The film’s opening chimpanzee hunt and the attack on the apes by police on horseback on the Golden Gate Bridge mirror similar scenes in the opening of Planet Of The Apes where apes were hunting humans. When Caesar is sprayed with a high-pressure hose by Dodge, it parallels a similar moment in the original when apes blast Taylor with a hose.
One of the most powerful images in the original Planet Of The Apes is the end reveal of a toppled Statue of Liberty and that Taylor had been on Earth all along. Rise references this iconic moment when we see a young Caesar in his room putting together a three-dimensional model of the Statue. What makes this moment particularly well placed is that it comes right before the event that sends Caesar on the path to the primate shelter and ultimately the rebellion he leads. It’s a small and subtle bit of foreshadowing to the dramatic end of the first film.
Charlton Heston Cameo
Just because he passed away in 2008, that isn’t going to stop Charlton Heston, the star of the original Planet Of The Apes, from making a cameo appearance in this new film. Here, we glimpse him in a clip from his 1965 movie The Agony And The Ecstasy, which primate shelter worker Rodney is watching in one scene. Heston also cameoed in director Tim Burton’s Planet Of The Apes remake in 2001, ironically in the role of an anti-gun ape elder.
Perhaps the most obvious bit of stage-setting the film does for a possible sequel is the mentions of the flight of the spaceship Icarus. Some glimpsed television news coverage tells us that the NASA ship is readying launch on the first manned mission to Mars. Later, at the start of apes’ escape from the primate sanctuary, we see a newspaper headline stating that the Icarus has been “Lost In Space.” While the ship that Heston’s Taylor commanded in the original film went unnamed, it is obvious that the screenwriters are setting up their version of the backstory of how Taylor arrived in the future. In the original film, the ship was on a “deep space” mission. But since we weren’t launching such missions in 1972, the year Taylor and his crew supposedly came from, I can live with this bit of retroactive adjustment. Since screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver have stated that they have a trilogy of films in mind and that Rise is only the first part, hopefully we’ll get to see this paid off in a future installment.