Beneath The Planet Of The Apes: A Behind The Scenes Look

Continuing the story of the Original Series by seamlessly starting off where Planet of the Apes (1968) ended, Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) had many ideas which at that period could be seen as ahead of its time.  From shots of the tribe to inconsistencies in the plot, here’s a dive behind the scenes of Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

Beneath The Planet Of The Apes

Warning: if you haven’t seen the Planet of the Apes films, there will be spoilers ahead.

What Was The Movie About?

As stated before, this movie starts where the first left off with an abrupt reminder of the turmoil mankind is struggling through.   The “Forbidden Zone” returns, a radiated land too deadly for normal mankind and the creator of the mutants, with characters George Taylor (Played by Charlton Heston) and Nova (Played by Linda Harrison)  dredging through.  A setting which successfully applies the ideas of what mankind is truly going through, something we will see throughout the series.  These two astronauts have been tasked with recovering Taylor’s crew who were supposedly lost in the first film.

From the onset, these two astronauts have landed on a world that has been overrun by apes.  When an incident occurs that immobilizes Taylor’s on-screen appearances, Nova is reminded of a freak natural accident by John Brent (Played by James Franciscus): another astronaut.  On entering Ape city, one of the many Ape societies, Nova and Brent are taken in by Gorillas, annotating the very authority these future Apes have on humankind.

Although more incidents occur, the main plot of the movie revolves around an underground city which is harbouring a supposedly deadly atomic bomb, something the mutants hold dear to their hearts.  With a lack of knowledge, a certain gorilla army enters the underground city to destroy all weapons related to the centre’s nuclear weapon.  This is a direct comparison to how the functionality and storage of nuclear weapons are not common knowledge to the public populace.  Through the failure of destroying the bomb, the nuclear weapon is set off and a war breaks out between the Apes and the Mutants.  This war had too many casualties, a battle which caused the deaths of main characters like Nova and Brent.  In a last-ditch effort, George Taylor sets off the bomb, which on explosion, wipes out all life on Future Earth.

An Inconsistency In Time 

Although not a troubling problem for the movie’s plot itself, the period in which Taylor and Nova’s crash land is up in the air.  In the Planet of the Apes, it is shown through a ship date meter that the astronauts landed on Future Earth in the year 3978.  However, through the first scenes of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the meter shows a new year, 3955, a year which is to be referenced again in future movies in the Original series.  Although at first glance, this may just be an easy mistake to make, it might also suggest a change in direction the movie could’ve pathed to.  

Other small continuity errors like this are scattered all across the movie:

  • As Taylor dies he touches the bomb detonator, however, no blood is left behind even though he was severely bleeding.
  • From today’s standard, it is incredibly easy to pick up on terrible make-up or costumes, such as the Ape Mask in the Ape City crowds.
  • The underground city has no light sources yet is lit up perfectly.
  • Countless Visible crew and equipment are shown in various scenes.

It is true that a film made in 1970 would have considerably more mistakes than a film of today, but interestingly enough these mistakes do not hinder the ratings given by audiences and critics alike.  These movies, even though janky and rough around the edges, still hold up through plot and nostalgia.

Beneath The Blast Zone

It’s clear to see that the ending of Beneath the Planet of the Apes is one that causes a lot of discussion from today’s standpoint.  An ending which practically wiped everything out, something built up over two films.  This anarchic destruction of life was not one many people in the production of the film wanted.  Paul Dehn, the British screenwriter, stated that he wanted a more optimistic end, something with less destruction and more birth to a new earth.  An opinion shared by many due to the ending’s abrupt and pessimistic take. 
However on the other side, with films like Marvel for instance, endings like the one seen in Beneath the Planet of the Apes would be instantly frowned upon.  And yet the light-hearted endings from many action films these days cause groans and sighs from the audience in need and want of more consequences when it comes to more serious topics.  It would be vital to take aspects from both sides of the spectrum to create plot details which can dive into consequences whilst straying away from total destruction of all characters in a film

Beneath the Planet of the Apes was a film that challenges the movie standards of today, something that could be done in the late 20th century.  A film with a large scope of small inconsistencies and disagreements in plot decisions still holds up in reception compared to other films in the series.  This film is a great reminder of how movie production was more experimentally back in Beneath the Planet of the Apes time period due to minimal consequence in doing so compared to the world we live in today, a sub-factor of social media.

How about you?  Did you notice inconsistencies in Beneath the Planet of the Apes? Let us know.  We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you might want to know about…

What happened to Taylor in Beneath the Planet of the Apes?

Taylor, on seeing the war that broke out and with his fellow astronauts being killed in the crossfire between the Apes and Mutants, had to make a decision.  A decision which had to be quick due to being shot by an Ape soldier.  In his final moments he set off the atomic bomb, the centre plot of the movie, which in turn wiped out all life on Future Earth.  Ultimately George Taylor’s demise was a heroic trade-off.

Is Beneath the Planet of the Apes a sequel?

Beneath the Planet of the Apes was released in 1970, two years after the first movie in the Original Series: Planet of the Apes 1968.  A sequel which carried on the story of the first from the onset, starting where the first film left off.

What happened at the end of Beneath the Planet of the Apes?

With the main characters being killed due to the battle between the Apes and the Mutants, the ending battle was a bloody war.  George Taylor, like his fellow astronauts, was gunned down by an Ape soldier and in his dying breath, detonated the atomic bomb which destroyed all life on Future Earth.  This ending is seen to be ahead of its time, although an ending which kills everyone is rarely seen nowadays.  However did some life survive, a question continued in the next sequel: Escape from the Planet of the Apes.