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Headscratchers / Planet of the Apes

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    Pierre Boulle's novel 
  • The book. The story of Ulysse, our human hero and narrator, is one found transcribed onto paper and found as a literal message in a bottle by the spacefaring characters of Jinn and Phyllis. Allowing for how Ulysse's transcript ends, how does he get the message back into space?
    • And why? Probably intended as a Sequel Hook.
    • Is the novel different to the Hungarian comic? In the comic Ulysse takes off with Nova and their child again after they learn that Earth has been taken over by apes, and his intention is to look for some third planet to live in (Writers Cannot Do Math coupled with All Planets Are Earthlike and Space Is an Ocean, as is typical of stories at the time this came out). The bottle implies that Ulysse never found a suitable planet.
    • Ulysse'a narrative in the book just ends with them landing on Earth and are approached by a police officer he realizes is a gorilla. It then goes to the Frame Story of Jinn and Phyliis. It sounds like that comic added that part to explain the unanswered question that brought this headscratcher in the first place.
    • At the beginning of his manuscript, Ulysse talks about living on a ship which is providing all their needs, and hoping to find another human planet out in space, and casts out the message in hopes some pre-Ape-takeover human society will read it and be forewarned (the novel seems to imply the evolution of apes, humans, then intelligent apes supplanting humanity is destined to occur on all life-bearing worlds. . . it is French satire). One can assume that, once he got over the shock and despair at seeing Earth conquered by Apes, he ran right back into the launch and took off for his spaceship, then started looking for somewhere else to call home.

    Planet of the Apes (1968) 
  • The original: How did humans lose their ability to speak?
    • Presumably they're never taught how to speak. They just punished if they speak so most probably never even try, if they can comprehend that. If a human doesn't gain access to certain things, like speech, before a certain age that part of their brain gets "blocked" off.
      • That might work for captive-bred humans that are punished for vocalizing as children, although even those ought to learn to understand others' speech by listening to their ape masters talk. It certainly wouldn't explain why humans living free in the wild would be unable to rediscover language.
    • Maybe at some point humans evolved not to speak due to a genetic bottleneck. Like a plague wiped humans that could speak, leaving only those who were mute who also had the immunity linked to the trait of muteness. This is the explanation given in one of the scripts for a Planet of the Apes remake. It's a bit of a stretch but this is Sci-Fi.
    • Human speech is not itself an evolutionary trait. The only evolutionary aspect of it is having a mind capable to relate specific sounds or symbols with concepts, reproduce them to convey the concepts in context-related circumstances, and develop as a society an unified code for all this. Vocal folds help, but if we had a brain and lacked them, language may have taken another form. Or not. A common mistake is to think of evolution in a deterministic way, as if intelligence had to lead to civilization, because in our case it did so. Whales and Dolphins are even more intelligent than humans and there is no whale civilization, humans left in the wild for generations may stay as savage animals and never recreate civilized traits again.
      • Human speech actually is an evolutionary trait. A growing child will instinctively seek language cues wherever they can be found. If there are none, they develop a rudimentary language of their own, but in absence of interaction with peers it will never develop beyond basics. Most of the world's sign languages evolved by chance when deaf children were put together in special schools, for example. The only solution to the scenario presented by the movies is that a genetic mutation wiped out this capacity through a viral infection, or something. Also, while very smart, possessing different languages and rudimentary cultures, cetaceans don't have human level of analytical intelligence.
  • In the first movie the monkeys say flight is impossible, but what about birds? If they actually took the Earth aren't they supposed to exist?
    • They probably mean 'a machine that allows an ape to fly is impossible'. Not counting the legend of Icarus, humans said pretty much the same thing for many centuries.
  • In Planet of the Apes, it's made pretty clear that knowledge of the past prior to the Lawgiver has been suppressed. So how does Cornelius know about the story of Aldo saying "no" to his human masters in Escape?
    • Because it's stated somewhere that as an archaeologist, Cornelius had access to scrolls that were kept from the rest of the population.
    • A better question is why does Cornelius say that Aldo's defiance against his human captors is celebrated in his time, when in the previous films the apes treated the sheer idea that humans were sapient as blasphemous?
      • Maybe the story of Aldo was just a story, and interpreted as such. Like "A long time ago, there was a magical kingdom of talking humans, and these talking humans kept apes as pets and enslaved them, much like what we do with humans today. Then one day an ape named Aldo said 'No.' " It's only when Cornelius meets Taylor and goes back in time does he realize the story of Aldo was based on actual events. In the case of the orangutans, it is clear that they knew all about the true history, and were working to keep it secret, and so any evidence of humans talking is considered blasphemous. Gorillas of course, don't need to think about these things, and so it's easy for them to believe that all humans are dumb and have always been dumb.
  • Where is that Statue of Liberty? It looks like it's washed up on the north side of somewhere but its facing South. Did it float over to Manhattan and flip around?
    • The coast changed during the millennia, the statue (semi)collapsed and the remainder was buried in new sediment. This is not that strange: there are many cities in the Mediterranean that had ports in Roman times or before, and now are landlocked.
    • The nukes probably also altered Earth's axial tilt and produced other climate changes. East Coast climate now resembles a hot and dry West Coast climate.
    • Or maybe it's not the real Statue of Liberty at all, but what's left of a replica that was built for a movie set or theme park on the West Coast.
      • No, it is the Statue of Liberty, because it is found close to the buried remains of New York in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.
  • What the hell was the mission objective? 700 years traveling over 99% the speed of light. Where the heck were they going and what did they EXPECT to find when they got back?
    • From the best I can figure it was supposed to be a one-way exploration trip and would involve one woman and three men setting up a new life in space...and the woman died in the flight. Yeah, I don't think you could set up a self-supporting Earth colony with a gene pool like that. And if it was planned as a one-way trip, it doesn't really make sense for Brent to be on a rescue mission.
    • Perhaps a test to determine whether humans could survive relativistic travel at all. Although they wouldn't necessarily tell the crew that.
  • Why is the doll such condemning proof? Humans make ape toys that talk after all.
    • The idea is not that they can't do it, but that they wouldn't do it. We can make ape toys that talk, because for us the idea of intelligent and civilized apes is fictional but not blasphemous.
    • There's also the fact that, from what we see of ape society, it's probably more technologically advanced than anything the apes make themselves which would raise questions about where it came from.
  • How could Taylor think, even for a moment that he's not on Earth? To have the exact same plants and animals, 24-hour days, the same continents (didn't he ever look at a map?), and intelligent creatures speaking English on a foreign planet - the chances of that are nil. If he was willing to believe all that, the Statue of Liberty should not have been a proof. If the foreign planet has the same species, language, etc., it might as well have the same statue.
    • It's been 2,000 years and Taylor hadn't found out how humans had fallen until towards the end. He probably thought that before the fall, we'd discovered faster ways to travel and had colonized another world, transplanting everything. The timing might be iffy, but it's certainly possible under the Sci-Fi banner for it to have happened and still lead to the movie.
      • But if they transplanted everything, again the Statue of Liberty does not work as a proof that it was Earth all along. Why couldn't they transplant that?
    • As low as the odds are it's fairly common in Sci-Fi for other planets to be strangely similar to earth. Everybody in the universe often speaks English with no official explanation why.
    • Those are all excellent clues, but the idea that an astronaut would never look at the moon or the constellations seems even stranger. Then again, if he jumps to his 'blew it all up' speech the first time he looks up, the movie's kind of short.
      • His ship was set to travel hundreds of light years away from Earth and was already a long way away when he went into cryosleep, he probably never considered that it would somehow turn back and land on Earth by itself. As for why he didnt recognise Earth he never saw the Ape dominated Earth from Orbit, he woke up after they crash landed, and if I remember correctly they mention they can't see a moon.

    Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) 
  • The mutant humans in Beneath. How'd they manage to survive all that time living with radiation? We did see what it did to their skin, but we also know that radiation causes thyroid cancer, sterility, birth defects...seems to me they're lucky not to have died out after a few generations.
    • In the novelization for War for the Planet of the Apes, it mentions that they take pills that ward off the worst of radiation, but have their own side-effects - like insanity.
  • Taylor blows the whole planet up, due at least in part to the apes and the mutated men. But he's only seen a small portion of the planet! How does he know the rest of the world is like the area around what used to be New York City? (Bear in mind I'm bugged by the film; the original book establishes very well that the entire world is a planet of apes, not just a small area.)
    • He was dying. It was his last act of defiance to Dr. Zaius.
      • Charlton Heston has said that Taylor was merely reaching for Zaius and his dying hand fell on the trigger by coincidence. It's supposed to be ambiguous, but given Taylor apparent death wish following Nova's death, it can seem like he did it on purpose. Either way, the filmmakers' message that an endless cycle of war will lead to mankind's destruction is proven right whether we deliberately wipe ourselves out or do so inadvertently.
    • Also remember, Nova had just been killed by an ape, so what's the point?
    • Remember, The Wild Bunch had just come out the previous year. Ending the movie with a badass but ultimately pointless bloodbath was a recurring theme during that period in film.
    • How did Taylor and Brent know the bomb would destroy the world? It is clear they left Earth in the 1970's, a time when humanity clearly did not have the technology to build bombs that could destroy a whole planet, and as such would not recognize a bomb that could.
      • Brent says that it was "above his paygrade" to know about such a bomb, but not above Taylor's. So Taylor heard about such a bomb in development.
      • The bomb would still wipe out an important part of humanity's remnants, as well as the local ape civilization. As it's implied that the world is already seriously messed up from previous wars, this definitely insures things would go From Bad to Worse.
      • Actually, one of the properties of a thermonuclear weapon is that you can build one of arbitrarily large size with enough materials. Lithium deuteride and depleted uranium are completely stable unless and until they are exposed to the conditions of a nuclear explosion: 100 million degree temperatures combined with an enormous neutron flux. Once you trigger the secondary by detonating the pure fission device in the primary, the secondary will continue to burn until it either runs out of fuel or the pressure blows it apart. Tsar Bomba was built at over 50 megatons, and Tsar Bomba Class nuclear weapons can go as high as 100 megatons. If we can build a 100 megaton bomb, we can build a bomb of any size given enough material.
      • Humanity didn't (and still doesn't) have the technology to build functioning cryogenic chambers or spacecraft capable of relativistic speeds either, yet Taylor (and Brent, and later Burke and Virdon) began their missions in the late 1970s/early 1980s. The Apes universe appears to be an alternate timeline with more advanced technology, so who's to say what their weapons technology is or isn't capable of?

    Later sequels (1971-1973) 
  • In the first film, it is noted that while the astronauts have been away from Earth for centuries due to time dilation (Taylor even notes that the men who sent him on the voyage are now dead). But in the third film, Escape From the Planet of the Apes, the President says that Taylor's ship has been missing for two years. As though he were expecting it to return within his own lifetime. What's going on?
    • Funny thing about relativistic acceleration: it produces a one-way event horizon behind you. If you accelerate at 1 g away from Earth space, after one year you will no longer be able to ever receive signals from Earth (until you stop accelerating away from Earth), but Earth will still be able to receive signals from you, albeit greatly red-shifted. It is, of course, possible to red-shift a signal so great that our receivers can't detect it. Evidently, the President was surprised that the ship hadn't checked in in two years.
  • This is certainly a headscratcher for me: as we all know the events of the first two movies take place in post apocalyptic New York, however, Escape From the Planet of the Apes takes place in Los Angeles and it appears that Conquest... and Battle... take place in the remains of a Southern California city as well, possibly future Los Angeles. The implication in Battle... is the ape village being constructed will eventually become Ape City from the first two movies. How is this possible, considering New York and Los Angeles are 3,000 miles apart?
    • On that note, how did the topography of the [former] NYC area change to look like Southern California cliffs? C'mon, an atomic bomb can't do that, no matter how much you worship it.
    • Conquest was filmed in LA, but the location legend at the beginning of the movie only says that it takes place in "North America". Since Armando is the head of a travelling circus, it isn't too far-fetched to assume that they are in New York or in some nearby city.
  • Apes make terrible pets: dangerous, destructive, unmanageable and expensive. Yet the original films had them as replacements for dogs and cats. Does that mean that rabbits, ferrets, parakeets, hamsters, and all the other animals that were vastly more suited to be pets also died out? Bloody selective plague, if so, considering that horses and humans both survived.
    • The only explanation that might have explained this, and I stress *might*, is if the movie would have suggested the apes in Conquest... had been genetically altered to be a slave race as opposed to just being normal apes that had been trained. This too would have explained why all the apes were now humanoid in appearance.
    • The novelization does in fact state that the apes were genetically modified to make them more pliable as pets (and more intelligent to handle menial work).
  • Why do the humans start taking apes as pets? Escape From the Planet of the Apes had Cornelius tell humanity how the apes would rise starting with pets. Humanity clearly believed this because instead of treating talking apes as the incredible wonder that we would it's seen as a huge problem and they spend a lot of Conquest trying to kill Caesar because they know what he represents. So given they had warnings, warnings that were apparently taken seriously by the majority of humanity, (It would be different if the talking space apes were treated as some kind of hoax) why do they still take ape pets and on top of that start training them to do things as complicated as shopping and cutting hair? If I were in that scenario I'd be going circus to to circus exterminating organ grinding monkeys and no amount of dead pets would make me allow you to have ape pets. Pigs, iguanas, spiders, snakes, gerbils, possums, kangaroos. . .there has to be something. Hell we know horses survived the plague everybody could rock My Little Pony as long as it wasn't an ape. It's like a case of an entire planet being Too Dumb to Live.
  • When the president likens the situation with Milo to Herod and Jesus and Dr.Hasslein says Harrot doesn't have their facilities. What sane human would compare themselves to the man who attempted to kill Jesus?

    Tim Burton's remake (2001) 
  • Seriously, what the hell was up with the ending? So Earth is inhabited by apes now? Huh? Why is there a Monkey Ape Lincoln?
    • See the WMG for Mac Phisto's explanation.
    • They're counterparts. I wonder what Ape Lincoln did; Did he free an ape race from another?
      • The website claims that Thade simply went back in time using the other pod and started an ape revolution on Earth, freeing them from humans. That, of course, would cause the Grandfather Paradox. If humans never build the Oberon, then it never crashes on the other planet, and Thade's ancestor Simos never establishes an ape society.
      • It would not create a Grandfather Paradox. Leo returned to Earth on October 26, 2155, while he left Saturn's orbit in the year 2029. The ape revolution could have happened in those 128 years.
      • Um... no it couldn't. At all. Did the Apes demolish the human statue of Lincoln and put an identical Ape one in its place? At the latest the Revolution must have took place by the mid 1800's.
      • Not entirely impossible scenario. The apes, well, ape humans a lot. They could easily just replace human monuments with their own and leave everything else as is.
      • The Lincoln Memorial wasn't built until the 1930's. The Apes could have demolished the statue at any time, and replaced it with their own. Human civilizations did/do that all the time (the Egyptians were notorious for retconning their own history!)
    • An even bigger question for the 2001 remake: the apes and the humans on an alien planet are easy to explain, as they survived the crash of the Oberon. Where the hell did all those horses come from???
      • Only two possible explantations. Either the alien planet just happened to have horse-like creatures on it...or the space station had, for whatever reason, experimental animals that included horses in addition to the experimental apes.
  • The remake: Umm... if humans outnumber apes, can talk, and have opposable thumbs... why are the apes in charge again?
    • They're Apes. Strong, easily angered, sapient apes. Humans appeared to have lost their knowledge for weapons a long time ago, leaving them vulnerable.
    • Do they really outnumber the apes? The prequel comics mention that most of the Oberon crew was killed in the crash. The survivors were forced to defend themselves against intelligent Big Creepy-Crawlies, so they enhanced the apes. That didn't turn out well.
    • But why do the apes treat humans like animals? In the original movie it made sense, since humans had ape-like intelligence, but in the remake they are sentient beings, they can talk and think and so on. If they consider the humans inferior, they can just make them inferior-class citizens. Enslaving them makes sense; treating them like non-sentient beings doesn't.
      • You could ask the same to the pre-Civil War South.
  • How would a single talking chimp with no concept of modern technology set up an ape revolution, considering this would require genetically-engineered apes, which we only saw on the Oberon. The originals actually make it clear that apes are everywhere thanks to all the other pets dying out. The remake doesn't mention anything like that.
    • Moreover, why would a future space mission bring a bunch of apes along in the first place? Even if they're genetically-engineered to be smarter, there's nothing they can do that a robotic drone couldn't, and the latter wouldn't be a drain on the Oberon's life-support facilities. The only reason apes were ever sent into space in the first place was to confirm that anthropoid brains would still function in space; once they knew it was safe enough for humans, orbital bio-research switched to smaller organisms that were lightweight, harmless, and easy to maintain.

    Multiple / Miscellaneous 
  • As there didn't seem to be any sentient gibbons or siamangs running around in this franchise, shouldn't it be called Planet of the Great Apes?
    • WE only get to see a small part of North America. If it makes you feel better, write a fanfic called 'Southern Hemisphere of the Gibbons'.
  • How did the English language remain so fully unchanged through ape revolution, nuclear war, and centuries of primitive culture? And how did the small ape community shown in the original movie maintain such a wide range of twentieth-century accents?
    • An extremely conservative culture steeped in religious ritual might keep 'the First Speech' alive in the same way we still use Latin.
      • The original novel supports this in concept as it flat out stated the ape society hadn't advanced technologically at all since overthrowing the humans. They were stuck in at 1960's level tech, but there were implications they were on the verge of a leap forward. Since in the novel, it actually was another planet, there was a language barrier that had to be overcome, but since the movies are mostly set on Earth, stagnation is a possibility.

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