Planet of the Apes
La Planète des singes, known in English as Monkey Planet or Planet of the Apes, is a French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 1963 science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 novel by Pierre Boulle
Pierre Boulle
Pierre Boulle was a French novelist largely known for two famous works, The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes .-Biography:...

. It was published in the UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 as Monkey Planet, then re-issued as Planet of the Apes to tie it in to the film franchise
Planet of the Apes (franchise)
Planet of the Apes is a United States media franchise with seven films , two television series, and comic books. The series began with the 1968 science fiction film Planet of the Apes, which was based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle.-Background:The original series of...

 it inspired.


The main events of the book are placed in a frame story
Frame story
A frame story is a literary technique that sometimes serves as a companion piece to a story within a story, whereby an introductory or main narrative is presented, at least in part, for the purpose of setting the stage either for a more emphasized second narrative or for a set of shorter stories...

, in which Jinn and Phyllis, a couple out on a pleasure cruise in a spaceship, find a message in a bottle floating in space. The message inside the bottle is the testimony of a man, Ulysse Mérou. Ulysse explains that he was a friend of Professor Antelle, a genius scientist on Earth, who invented a spaceship that could travel at nearly the speed of light. In 2500, Ulysse, the professor, and a physicist named Arthur Levain flew off in this ship to explore outer space. They traveled to the nearest star system that the professor theorized might be capable of life, the red sun Betelgeuse
Betelgeuse, also known by its Bayer designation Alpha Orionis , is the eighth brightest star in the night sky and second brightest star in the constellation of Orion, outshining its neighbour Rigel only rarely...

, which would take them about 350 years to reach. Because of time dilation
Time dilation
In the theory of relativity, time dilation is an observed difference of elapsed time between two events as measured by observers either moving relative to each other or differently situated from gravitational masses. An accurate clock at rest with respect to one observer may be measured to tick at...

, however, the trip seems to the travelers only to last two years.

They arrive at the distant planetary system
Planetary system
A planetary system consists of the various non-stellar objects orbiting a star such as planets, dwarf planets , asteroids, meteoroids, comets, and cosmic dust...

 and find that it contains an Earth-like planet, which they name Soror (Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for sister). They land and discover that they can breathe the air, drink the water, and eat the local vegetation. They encounter other human beings on the planet, although these others act as primitively as chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

s and destroy the clothing of the three astronauts. They are captured by the primitive humans and stay with them for a few hours. At the end of this time, they are startled to see a hunting party in the forest, consisting of gorilla
Gorillas are the largest extant species of primates. They are ground-dwelling, predominantly herbivorous apes that inhabit the forests of central Africa. Gorillas are divided into two species and either four or five subspecies...

s and chimpanzees using guns and machines. The apes wear human clothing identical to that of 20th-century Earth, except that they wear gloves instead of shoes on their prehensile feet
Prehensile feet
Prehensile feet are lower limbs that possess prehensility, the ability to grasp like a hand. They are most commonly observed in monkeys, who similarly possess prehensile tails, and apes....

. The hunting party shoots several of the humans for sport, including Levain, and capture others, including Ulysse.

Ulysse is taken to the apes' city, which looks exactly the same as a human city from 20th-century Earth, except that some smaller furniture exists for the use of the chimpanzees. While most of the humans captured by the hunting party are sold for manual labor, Ulysse is sent to a research facility. There, the apes perform experiments on the humans similar to Pavlov's
Ivan Pavlov
Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was a famous Russian physiologist. Although he made significant contributions to psychology, he was not in fact a psychologist himself but was a mathematician and actually had strong distaste for the field....

 conditioning experiments on dogs, and Ulysse proves his intelligence by failing to be conditioned, and by speaking and drawing geometrical
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

 figures. Ulysse is adopted by one of the researchers, Zira, a female chimpanzee, who teaches him the apes' language. He learns from her all about the ape planet. Eventually, he is freed from his cage, and meets Zira's fiancé, Cornélius, a respected young scientist. With Cornélius' help, he makes a speech in front of the ape President and numerous representatives, who grant him his liberty and is given specially tailored clothing. It is around this time that he discovers his companion Professor Antelle survived the hunt and was captured, being sent to the zoo and kept in captivity in a large cage with the primitive humans. However when the protagonist attempts to make contact and speak with the professor, it is revealed he has completely lost his mind and his faculties, degenerated and behaving just as the primitive humans do. Ulysse tours the city and learns about the apes' civilization and history. The apes have a very ancient society, but their origins are lost in time. Their technology and culture have progressed slowly through the centuries because each generation, for the most part, imitates those of the past. The society is divided between the violent gorillas, the pedantic and conservative orangutans, and the intellectual chimpanzees.

Although Ulysse's patrons Zira and Cornélius are convinced of his intelligence, the society's leading orangutan scientists believe he is faking his understanding of language, because their philosophy will not allow the possibility of intelligent human beings. Ulysse falls in love with a primitive human female, Nova, whom he had met in the forest at the beginning of his visit to the planet. He impregnates her and thus proves that he is the same species as the primitive humans, which lowers his standing in the eyes of many of the apes. Their derision turns to fear with a discovery in a distant archaeological dig and an analysis of memory in some human brains. Evidence is uncovered that fills in the missing history of the apes. In the distant past, the planet was ruled by human beings who built a technological society and enslaved apes to perform their manual labor. Over time the humans became more and more dependent upon the apes, until eventually they became so lazy and degenerate that they were overthrown by their ape servants and fell into the primitive state in which our protagonist found them.

While some of the apes reject this evidence, others (in particular, an old orangutan scientist, Dr. Zaius
Dr. Zaius
Dr. Zaius is a fictional character in the Pierre Boulle novel Planet of the Apes, and the film series and television series based upon it. He is an orangutan and although given a minor role devoid of dialogue in the novel, he becomes the main antagonist of the story in the subsequent film adaptation...

) take it as a sign that the humans are a threat and must be exterminated. Ulysse learns of this, and escapes from the planet with his wife and newborn son, returning to Earth in the professor's spaceship. Ulysse lands on Earth more than 700 years after he had originally left it, just outside the city of Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. Once outside the ship, he discovers that Earth is now ruled by intelligent apes just like the planet from which he has fled. He immediately leaves Earth in his ship, writes his story, places it in a bottle, and launches it into space for someone to find. It is at this point in the story that Jinn and Phyllis, the couple who found the bottle, are revealed to be chimpanzees. Jinn and Phyllis dismiss Ulysse's narrative, saying that a human would not have the intelligence to write such a story.


Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes (1968 film)
Planet of the Apes is a 1968 American science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison...

(1968) was a science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 film based on Boulle's novel, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner from a screenplay by Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson (writer)
Michael Wilson was an Academy Award winning American screenwriter who was blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studio bosses during the era of McCarthyism....

 and Rod Serling
Rod Serling
Rodman Edward "Rod" Serling was an American screenwriter, novelist, television producer, and narrator best known for his live television dramas of the 1950s and his science fiction anthology TV series, The Twilight Zone. Serling was active in politics, both on and off the screen and helped form...

. It starred Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston was an American actor of film, theatre and television. Heston is known for heroic roles in films such as The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, El Cid, and Planet of the Apes...

. The film was a critical and commercial success, and four sequels
Planet of the Apes (franchise)
Planet of the Apes is a United States media franchise with seven films , two television series, and comic books. The series began with the 1968 science fiction film Planet of the Apes, which was based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle.-Background:The original series of...

 were made. A second adaptation
Planet of the Apes (2001 film)
Planet of the Apes is a 2001 American science fiction film, based on Pierre Boulle's novel and a remake of the 1968 film of the same name. Tim Burton directed the film, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, and Estella Warren. It tells the...

 of the book was produced in 2001 directed by Tim Burton
Tim Burton
Timothy William "Tim" Burton is an American film director, film producer, writer and artist. He is famous for dark, quirky-themed movies such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet...

. A series reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes, directed by Rupert Wyatt
Rupert Wyatt
Rupert Wyatt is a British writer and film director. His debut film was The Escapist, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2008...

, was released in August 2011 to critical and commercial success. It is intended to be the first in a new series of films.

External links

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