Host Anna Van Valin Talks Us Through A Special Planet of the Apes Episode
Planet of the Apes takes the stage in the third episode of 20th Century Fox’s podcast channel, Screen Dive. Host Anna Van Valin walks us through the ins and outs of the franchise’s history, inspiration, and legacy alongside new and familiar voices, from original crew members from 1968, to the visionaries behind the modern films, to real-world apes experts.
Read as Valin introduces Screen Dive and the special Apes episode below, and then don’t forget to check out the FULL EPISODE yourself!
Tell us about Screen Dive…
Screen Dive is 20th Century Fox’s first podcast, which I host. It’s a show where we pull back the curtain on some of our most beloved films through new interviews with their creators, and guest contributors who give us some deeper context around the movies. In addition to Planet of the Apes, we’ll be releasing episodes on The Sandlot, Young Frankenstein, Devil Wears Prada, Super Troopers and more. It’s a brand new way to celebrate our rich history of films and filmmakers, and I’m really excited about it.
What attracted you to APES specifically?
Since this year is the 50th anniversary, it was a no-brainer. POTA was groundbreaking when it came out, and it’s just as impressive today. The challenges posed by making these films have inspired some incredibly fascinating innovation and creativity in movie technology – from the original makeup design to motion capture performance. Plus, it’s got so many themes, concepts and topics that I was eager to dig into.
You talk about the impact of the original film’s ending - what about the ending left such an impression on audiences in 1968, and how does it translate to modern audiences experiencing the original today?
Audiences in 1968 were living in the shadow of the Cold War, and the awareness that humanity had invented a means to actually destroy itself, which could be used at any moment. The character Taylor, played by Charlton Heston, drops hints throughout the film that things aren’t going so well back on Earth, which I think a 1968 audience would interpret as escalation of the Cold War. In that last scene when he says “You finally, really did it,” he’s speaking to the fear that we would go too far and destroy ourselves. I think it’s easy for a modern audience to connect to that, even if our major threats are different – we are all afraid of losing our way of life.
When speaking with the real-life ape specialists, what was the most surprising thing you learned about the similarities between human beings and apes?
We spoke to Natalia Raegan, who is an anthropologist specializing in non-human primates. I was curious to know why humans had a leg up in evolution. She said that spoken language allows us to direct, instruct, warn others, communicate about things that aren’t physically present, all of which is key to our survival as a species. I thought that was really fascinating.
During your segment about creating the Apes with makeup vs VFX, you talked about the process of “evolving” the VFX apes and making them feel very human. Which qualities do you think were most important to make audiences really connect with these characters on a human level?
For me, it’s the eyes. We carry so much expression and emotion in our eyes, and the people we spoke to who work with real apes said that they do as well. But neither the VFX nor the makeup can work without the performances of the amazing actors. It was great to hear Terry Notary, who plays Rocket and was the movement coach for the recent trilogy, talk about how he found a way to really embody the apes.
Anything else you’d like to highlight about this episode?
Screen Dive is all about finding out what makes these films so special. I hope it reminds listeners why they love these movies, or encourages them to discover them for the first time. Enjoy!
Check out the full episode and all upcoming movie content on Screen Dive HERE.
Synopsis: In celebration of the 50th anniversary, host Anna Van Valin takes a look at the groundbreaking sci-fi film Planet of the Apes, and the legendary film franchise it launched. Through interviews with some of the artists and filmmakers from the franchise, Anna explores how they created an exotic, terrifying fantasy world –and made us examine our own world in the process. Screen Dive is brought to you by 20th Century Fox.
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