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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Searching for Ape City

In the original film adaptation of “Planet of the Apes,” a space capsule crashes into a lake.  The astronauts awaken to realize that their capsule is sinking.  Taylor, played by Charlton Heston, glances at the chronometer.   When they reach the shore, he tells his fellow astronaut Landon, “Two thousand years have passed since we left Earth.  Time has wiped away everything you’ve ever known.”

Still, Landon can’t help but plant a tiny American flag on the shore of this new world. 

In visiting Malibu Creek State Park, I had hoped to discover where Ape City had once stood alongside Century Lake.  Constructed out of steel and Styrofoam, Ape City proved durable enough to use in the sequel, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes.”  Its architectural style, based upon a village carved out of a mountain in Turkey, seemed strikingly modern, yet also naturalistic.  I knew that it no longer stood in the park, but had hoped to find where it once stood.

Where's the waterfall?

As dry grass, picnic tables, and the occasional public restroom have sprung up in the rocky soil beside the upper parking lot, no trace remains of the cornfield through which the apes chase the astronauts and primitive humans.  Sadly, the same can be said for Ape City.  Century Lake is lake in name only.  Aside from the area where we happened upon the small film crew (in “Filmmaking in Malibu Creek State Park”), the “lake” is nothing more than a thin, green snake that serpentines along for a quarter-mile or so.  In the 1968 film, water tumbles down off the cliffs and into the rock pools, which look more clear and full than on our visit.  So perhaps Century Lake was larger back then too.

As we turned off the dirt road toward the lake where the film crew worked, we saw a man standing beside a water truck.  Later, on our way out, he sat inside the cab, evidently waiting in case the crew needed more water than the bottles on their food table would have provided.  After more online research at Omega Planet (see link in previous post), my wife suggested that Ape City might have stood where the man waited inside his water truck.  It’s just a guess, as time has wiped away so much in the subsequent decades, but it seems as good a guess to me as any.

Remembering how Taylor laughs at Landon’s simple act, I can’t help wonder what the park will look like two thousand years from now.   

In researching this post, I got out the Blu-ray edition of “Planet of the Apes” that my wife bought me last year for Christmas.  The player went clunk, and refused to recognize the disk.  My wife, the technical wizard of our family, is researching the issue.  While our older DVD offers an adequate viewing of the movie, the Blu-ray version not only includes a wonderful revamp of the movie, but also a documentary on the production.  Hopefully, she can rectify the problem.  Otherwise, in addition to Ape City, it would seem that time has wiped away the movie, the documentary, and everything else on the Blu-ray disk.

Dragon Dave

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