Roeg Ape

Rewatching PLANET OF THE APES — I am gratified to see that when you type “Planet of the Apes” into the IMDb, this is once more the film that turns up, the Tim Burton adaptation being mercifully forgotten — I got struck by the Roegisms. Did Nic R. see this, like it, and absorb it into his stylistic toolbox?

Case in point: the dramatic zoom in on Heston laughing at the little stars and stripes planted on the planet, a zoom which aims at his face but then misses and shoots off into the sky as Heston’s voice echoes away. A slightly similar effect occurs in EUREKA right at the start, but the space-zoom isn’t integrated in with a character in that one.

But that’s not all — there’s the rocket crash, even before that point, which is really a self-plagiarism by director Franklin J. Schaffner (who has the greatest, crunchiest Hollywood director name ever) since there’s a very similar ski crash at the starts of his earlier THE DOUBLE MAN. Roeg’s splashdown in THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH is *extremely* similar.

A less obvious one is the descent down a gravelly incline by Heston and his crew, which Roeg also borrows for Bowie in his sf movie. But he reverses the handheld camera descent, so that it’s backing away from Bowie at a low angle, instead of following Heston at eye-level.

APES is edited by Hugh S. Fowler, a Twentieth Century Fox company man all his life, who worked on some fine stuff — but asides from PATTON, it’s kind of hard to detect a consistent sensibility between this, IN HARM’S WAY and WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER? But his cutting, and the excellent sound design and Jerry Goldsmith’s score (a game-changer) do wonders to make every angle change a startle effect. Of course Schaffner deserves huge credit for providing such muscular material, along with cameraman Leon M. Shamroy, in gorgeous lifelike colour by Deluxe.

One more swipe — the dinghy’s transit along narrow canyons is borrowed by Michael Anderson for the final episode of his TV Martian Chronicles. And it serves him very well!

9 Responses to “Roeg Ape”

  1. I also think Fincher was inspired by the crash from APES for the opening crash landing in Alien3

  2. Oh yes, I think that’s extremely probable.

  3. Just looked at it again. I don’t see any real resemblance to Planet. The big watery explosion Fincher gives us is present in Man Who Fell but not in Planet.

  4. David Ehrenstein Says:

    I think what you’ve identified here is a shift in framing and editing that evolved from the late sixties and on into the seventies, beginning with “A Hard Day’s Night” but also encompassing such important films as “Daisies,” “Point Blank,” “Petulia” and “performance.’ Instead of the traditional manner of mise en scene in which the “Master Shot” predominates and serves as a “centering device” of sorts, these films have no center.

  5. bensondonald Says:

    The original Apes films, perhaps by design, mirrored the Universal horror cycle. First, an ambitious fantasy is an unlikely hit. Then, sequels of decreasing budget, aiming straight for the matinee crowd. Then television: For Universal, the Shock Theater package followed by the Munsters. For Apes, a live action and then an animated series — probably intended to keep the successful Apes toy lines going. And eventually, multiple reboots for both franchises.

    And yes, the toys are collectibles:

  6. I think Lester is the director from whom Roeg assimilated most, but interviewers always wanted him to talk about Truffaut.

    Schaffner having been a TV director is key — he does work with masters, as does Lester, but they fragment things more, and Schaffner goes in for sudden handheld lurches, even turning the camera upside down during a chase in PlanetOTA.

    His style mixes traditional and new in ways comparable to other TV directors of his generation who got into movies: Lumet, Frankenheimer, Penn…

    I’m realizing Roeg was more of a magpie than his reputation allows.

  7. David Ehrenstein Says:

    He was indeed. “the Man Who Fell to Earth” and “Insignificance” are marvelous. “Eureka” is deliciously bonkers. “Performance” is Cammell’s film, not Roeg’s — though he generously gave him co-director credit because the lighting and camera set-ups were accomplished so smoothly.

    As a DP I love his work on “Fahreheit 451” and “the masque of the Red Death”

  8. Alex Kirstukas Says:

    Speaking of crunchy names, “Leon Shamroy” sounds like somebody desperately trying to remember the leads in the original Star Trek series.

  9. Shamroy gave his name to Jayne Mansfield’s poodle in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, a little jest by director Frank Tashlin.

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