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Matt Reeves on the films which inspired War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes

With just a few days to go before the release of WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, we'll soon be able to decide for ourselves whether the sequel deserves all of the praise which has been thrown its way during these past weeks. As a huge fan of the PLANET OF THE APES franchise, both original and rebooted, I certainly hope it does. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES director Matt Reeves recently spoke with Fandango to discuss a few of the acclaimed movies which served as an inspiration for the upcoming sequel, including THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, PATHS OF GLORY, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, THE GREAT ESCAPE, and APOCALYPSE NOW.

Matt Reeves wanted WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES to be "epic and mythic," much like David Lean's THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, which Reeves said was the film which affected co-writer Mark Bomback and himself the most while they were watching movies.

There was something about the idea of this grand war story that was really told in an intimate way, as a battle of wills between the Alec Guinness character and General Saito. Their kind of psychological battle was totally inspirational in telling the story between Caesar and the Colonel. The idea of this captive who would really fight his adversary in a psychological way and in a battle of wills. That story was tremendously important to us.

With Stanley Kubrick's PATHS OF GLORY, Reeves was inspired to tell as much of the story through Caesar's perspective as possible, but he also drew upon the THE GREAT ESCAPE to showcase the fun and excitement of witnessing the band of apes coming together as a family. Matt Reeves didn't just stick to movies set on our world for a mythic quality, he also took a trip to a galaxy far, far away with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

For me, I was very excited about this idea about the mythology of the Force and what it meant, and I thought, "Wow, there's something really powerful about what that represents in these stories, how it's this representation of dark and light," and for me, it was like a light bulb. [Cowriter] Mark [Bomback] and I started talking about it, that actually we'd had that all along, because our Force was this question of human nature, this idea of looking at us grappling with the different aspects of our nature… you know the animal and the rational. That sort of war within us, and without it being outwardly stated, for me, it was very much what the movie was about. We wanted to take Caesar and push him to a place where he was going to be grappling with his empathy for the first time in any of these films, and that it was going to become this sort of epic mythic emotional journey rooted in this kind of philosophy and this idea that, to me, connected to Star Wars.

Of course the comparisons between WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES and APOCALYPSE NOW are obvious, with Caesar (Andy Serkis) on the search for the Colonel (Woody Harrelson). Reeves adds that on the outside, the Colonel seems like a monster, but when Caesar finally comes face to face with him, he has to "confront the fact that the Colonel may have more in common with him than he would like to admit. And so, the idea is to take the audience on that journey. I mean, obviously, Apocalypse Now was inspired by Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and obviously, this being a war story, and the nature of the extremity of war, there seemed to be something that can really resonate in that journey. And so, there's no question that was definitely an inspiration in a big way for the story, narratively." If you'd like a little more insight into the world of WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, be sure to check out our interviews with the cast and crew of the film.

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES hit theaters this Friday!

Source: Fandango

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