Directed by: Kevin Burns and David Comtois
Premise: A retrospective, feature length documentary on the history of The Planet of the Apes franchise from the original novel to the 1970s television series.
What Works: This film manages to balance depth and breadth. Many studio-produced documentaries end up being part of a promotional package for the DVD but this is a film unto itself. Behind the Planet of the Apes addresses the production challenges of the film but also the larger issues in the Apes saga and its place in film history. There is an honesty to the film, as it candidly recognizes the franchise’s strengths and its weaknesses.
What Doesn’t: The film does not give as much detail its second half. The content diminishes from sequel to sequel. The merchandising of Planet of the Apes is only covered in passing despite its importance to the way films are marketed today.
DVD extras: The film is only currently available with The Planet of the Apes DVD box set or the 30th anniversary edition of the original picture.
Bottom Line: Behind the Planet of the Apes is an excellent documentary about film. Its depth and honesty separate it from other lightweight features and it makes for entertaining viewing in itself.
Episode: #50 (May 1, 2005)