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*Planet of the Apes* as American Myth: Race, Politics, and Popular Culture [Paperback]

Eric Greene , Richard Slotkin
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 16 1999
A lively exploration of the Planet of the Apes films as racial allegory.

In 1968, Planet of the Apes became a megahit movie both in the US and abroad, inspiring four film sequels, two TV series, several comic series, and hundreds of millions of dollars in worldwide merchandising. The Apes films confronted some of the most controversial issues of the time, including Vietnam and the Black Power movement, all the while remaining crowd pleasing box office hits.

Eric Greene uses rare photographs, transcripts, and extensive interviews with the writers, directors, actors, and producers to read the Apes saga as a profoundly American myth. Greene also looks at the attempts of filmmakers like Oliver Stone and James Cameron to remake the myth for the 90s. This enjoyable and meticulous book gives the reader an insider's look at the complex relationships between race, politics and popular culture in America.

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Review

"[Tim Burton's new version tries to . . . incorporate ideas from Planet of the Apes as American Myth, Eric Greene's resourceful 1996 social analysis of the film and its sequels. Mr. Greene thoughtfully examined the racial politics that made the pictures both tough-minded and slightly repugnant." --New York Times review of Burton's remake

"Greene makes an utterly plausible case . . . you'll be scratching your head in humbled agreement."--Entertainment Weekly

"Astute . . . intelligently and cleverly written . . . fascinating scholarship."--Cinescape

From the Publisher

6 x 9 trim. 52 illus. LC 98-31193

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What is Apes really about? Here is the answer. July 26 2001
Format:Paperback
For anyone who asks the question "What are these Apes movies really about?" - here is the answer. Eric Greene's Planet of the Apes as American Myth is a thought provoking look at the movies and television series as a vehicle for explaining American social and political culture. His analysis of the internal class cultural cleavages which exist in "ape" society, i.e. the oppressive relationship between light skinned Orangutans and dark skinned Gorillas, as well as the external relationship beween apes and humans as a reflection of American race politics is brilliant and thoroughly convincing. From "ape" protests in the movies to American protests of the Vietnam war, the analogies to American politics and culture go on and on. Greene's arguments show that the choices which are made in telling the story are not separate from the political and social culture from which they are written. Through interviews with the writers and actors and behind-the-scenes anecdotes, the reader will be convinced that Greene's arguments are valid and, as a result, will gain a deeper appreciation for the Apes movies and television series. Greene shows there is a lot to be learned from the Apes films and T.V. series, not just in its examination of culutral and political problems, but also in its exploration of our futile attempts at solving them. A must read for anyone who goes to the movies - period.
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5.0 out of 5 stars KONG WOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD July 26 2001
Format:Paperback
Nothing is as interesting to me as human behavior, and it was a pleasant surprise to find that Mr. Greene feels somewhat the same. He's taken a great deal of time to break down and analyze this concept of race relations in the "Ape" films. I found his writing to be witty and revealing. An easy and enjoyable read about a difficult and confounding element of our society.
At 17, when I saw PLANET, we were constantly aware of racial issues around us, and in the news. It's been an important film series to me, and it's message remains powerful. It's wonderful to have Mr. Greene's book as an addition or companion to the 'Ape' films. I am looking forward to see what Mr. Greene will come up with when Tim Burton's version is released.
Politics and popular culture are handled in this book with an adept feel for the times the films were made. I wish the text books I read in college were as "hip" as what Mr. Greene has laid before us. I might have remembered more. I found his observations at times humorous and provocative...but always interesting. Well done.
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5.0 out of 5 stars KONG WOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD. July 26 2001
Format:Paperback
Nothing is as interesting to me as human behavior, and it was a pleasant surprise to find that Mr. Greene feels somewhat the same. He's taken a great deal of care to break down and analyze this concept of race relations in the "Ape" films. I found his writing to be witty and revealing. An easy and enjoyable read about a difficult and confounding element of our society.
At 17, when I saw PLANET, we were constantly aware of racial issues around us, and in the news. It's been an important film series to me, and it's message remains powerful. It's wonderful to have Mr. Greene's book as an addition or companion to the 'Ape' films. I look forward to seeing what this writer will come up with when Tim Burton's version is released.
Politics and popular culture are handled in this book with an adept feel for the times the films were made. I wish the text books I read in college were as "hip" as what Mr. Greene has laid before us. I might have remembered more. I found his observations at times humorous and provocative...but always interesting. Well done.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining AND Thought Provoking July 21 2001
Format:Paperback
I'm writing this review immediately after finishing the book and I have to give author Greene a rousing round of cyber-applause. This book is a refreshingly intelligent look into not just the Apes franchise, but pop culture in general. Anyone attempting a serious examination of film (of any sort) could do worse than study Mr. Greene's method.
The real miracle here is that it's very entertaining to read while being so darn smart. Quite a trick.
Unenlightened reviews on this page criticize Eric for reading too much into Apes, but I think he presents solid arguments for every one of his points and (more importantly) supporting interviews with the parties involved.
There are scores of shallow, publicity-driven "examinations" on thousands of films and TV shows, but very, very few are this thoughtful and well-researched. I was delighted to read something substantial for a change.
I say if this book is too deep for you, there are plenty of Apes coloring books on eBay...and please try to stay in the lines while coloring .
I was disapointed to see no other books available by this author. A Greene-eye look at CLASSIC Trek, CLASSIC Outer Limits, Alien Nation, and especially Babylon 5 would be most welcome indeed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and Entertaining July 18 2001
Format:Paperback
Movies are, more often than not, more of a comment on the times in which they were made than the times they represent. Rod Serling and Michael Wilson established their incredible careers writing stories about how human beings treat one another. So it's no coincidence that the futuristic Planet of the Apes films reflect the turbulent times in which they were written and produced - the late 1960s and early 1970s. At the height of the civl rights movement and the dawn of the Black power movement there was alot to say about how people treated other people with different colored skin. And while there are certainly other social issues being addressed in the Apes films, Greene has placed his finger squarely on the pulse of, perhaps, the major ideological force behind the films and their popularity. And he does so with a great sense of what makes a book of this sort entertaining as well as informative. I found the pacing to be excellent and the presentation far from dry. This is no textbook or dusty college paper! In fact, Greene educates and illuminates while giving lots of juicy stories, interviews, and backstage politics. He insightfully diagnoses each film for its symbolic content (both subtle and blatant) and for my money, he's spot on - from the casting of Charlton Heston in "Planet", to the use of School busses in "Battle." It has increased my enjoyment of the films many-fold. Read the book, then watch the films again and you will experience Planet of the Apes with a fresh perspective - one you haven't had since the first time you saw them. Personally, I am glad someone took the time to write about a body of work that means so much to so many people. I look forward to the update after Tim Burton's version debuts.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC and EYE-OPENING
It's all too rare that I come across a book like this -- one that is profound and intelligent about popular culture. Read more
Published on Sept. 30 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars APES AS MYTH....AND METAPHOR
What an outstanding and comprehensive look at this phenomenal series! Eric has thoroughly researched and written about this particular aspect of American pop culture and its... Read more
Published on June 17 2002 by michael trower
5.0 out of 5 stars APES AS MYTH....AND METAPHOR
What an outstanding and comprehensive look at this phenomenal series! Eric has thoroughly researched and written about this particular aspect of American pop culture and its... Read more
Published on June 17 2002 by michael trower
3.0 out of 5 stars ok Planet of the Apes book
I think Eric Greene did a good jop on writing this book.Though it does not cover any behind the scenes imformation.Its main focus is the political themes of the apes series. Read more
Published on Dec 20 2001
3.0 out of 5 stars Lighten up!
After reading this book and contemplating just how seriously Mr. Greene takes the Planet of the Apes movies, I can only say one thing: his premise would make for a great magazine... Read more
Published on Aug. 14 2001 by Shawn Sutherland
4.0 out of 5 stars The Apes and Us
Very insightful. The use of film to describe and explain contemporary society is intriguing. While I may not agree with all his points he is articulate and gives one food for... Read more
Published on July 26 2001 by T. Merino
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly...and still thoroughly entertaining
Eric Greene proves in his book to be an intelligent, articulate, scholarly author--with none of the stuffiness than can often accompany scholarship. Read more
Published on July 26 2001 by Mel Powell
2.0 out of 5 stars Greene thinks about Planet of the Apes waaay too much!
I can see Eric Greene at a party. Someone asks him "what would you like to write a book about? Read more
Published on June 26 2000
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