Day 198: Planet of the Apes and Three Phases of Marxist Revolution (1/3)

I just finished watching War of the Planet of the Apes with my wife, who has geeked out incessantly over the sociological allegories of these three films. Out of respect to her, I’m not going to say anything brilliant here — just enough to help a few of you understand the core themes of these films over the next three days.

Possible spoilers ahead — I’ll do what I can to restrain myself.

Rise: Class Recognition, Sentience, and Solidarity

The first film is all about the rise of a collective intelligence and first revolution from the bourgeoisie. The key turning point in the first Planet of the Apes film Rise (2011) happens at the “ape sanctuary,” starting with a scene between protagonist chimpanzee Caesar and his colleague Maurice, a sign language-fluent orangutan.

Caesar claimed that “Apes together … strong,” inferring that solidarity can create substantial social change. Maurice lamented, “…apes stupid.” Later that evening, Caesar escaped from the sanctuary to retrieve vials of a chemical gas that could improve their intelligence, releasing it into the compound. The next day, all of the apes’ eyes flicked with a hint of green — the physical sign of a sentient ape.

In other words, effective social change can only happen with a sentient collective that recognize itself as oppressed. Since the apes were not smart enough to recognize this and fought among themselves instead, Caesar could not organize them in any way. Once they became intelligent, the general assemblies commenced…

— Lee