By Kalina Palka
A couple of weeks ago I went to the Beckenham Odeon to see one of the most stunning films I’ve ever seen: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. In this film, special effects have finally come of age, creating an experience which was flawlessly real. ‘Performance capture’ technology gives us living, breathing apes with human intelligence, facial expressions and eyes – not men in monkey suits with immobile, plastic faces. This means the film was not only a high-adrenaline, visually stunning yarn – but also one of great emotional depth.
I immediately bought the DVD of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the first film in this new prequel trilogy. My 12-year-old nephew was visiting so we snuggled on the couch and watched it together. Despite the almost half century which separates us in age, our reaction was identical: “We don’t want it to end!” So it was back to the Odeon we went, to see Dawn. He said it was the best film he’d ever seen, and I, with the boredom threshold of a gnat, re-loved every minute.
And we still didn’t want it to end. So on the third night of his stay, I did a very modern thing: I streamed the original 1968 movie from the Net onto my TV, so my nephew could see where these prequels were leading. We found the contrast stark: not just the ‘monkey mask’ technology (revolutionary when I first went to see it), but the pace of the film to modern tastes was agonisingly slow. How things have speeded up in the last 46 years!
Nonetheless, it had a great ending, and a moral which came over loud and clear. As well as fantasy films, my nephew and I also share an interest in animals. By reversing the animal/human relationship, these films raise questions about our treatment of the other sentient creatures who share our planet. Questions I am keen to raise in his mind – and which presumably account for the continuing interest in the Ape story.
So, a truly inter-generational experience: films and technologies of different eras created a rich shared experience for a boy and woman of very different generations.
The icing on the cake would be if we could walk up to Church Road to see the third prequel when it comes out.