My wife is not a great lover of the “Planet of the Apes” movies. Yet when I suggested that we take a weekend to explore Malibu Creek State Park and visit Point Dume, she immediately embraced the idea. Her eyes glowed at the thought. The weekend thus had a surreal quality, as if I were merely imagining our journey together. It seemed too good to be true.
In the 1968 film “Planet of the Apes,” the first time Taylor sees Nova, we can see a connection spark between them. Taylor, the ultimate loner, initially objects to sharing a cell with her. Yet by the time the Apes take them to the outdoor exercise cage, he’s accepted her company, and the way she remains by his side.
In concrete matters, Nova is more wise that Taylor. When he, the cynical idealist, insists on speaking the truth as he sees it, she looks on with concern. When Taylor writes his message in the sand for Zera, she knows that Dr. Zaius, the orangutan Chief Scientist and Defender of the Faith, must not perceive Taylor as an intelligent being. So she wipes away the message he has drawn. Taylor doesn’t recognize her protectiveness though, and knocks her away. Back in their cell, when he still insists on speaking to her, she places a finger gently upon his lips.
Taylor may not understand why he cares about this mute, primitive woman, but he demands that Zera and Cornelius bring Nova along when they risk their careers to help him escape. As for the chimpanzee scientists, Cornelius wants nothing to do with Taylor when Zera first brings the human to him. He warns her that in protecting Taylor, she is risking everything they desire: respected positions in their society, and a long and happy marriage. Nonetheless, he supports her arguments in regards to Taylor, even though he knows that defying Dr. Zaius and the community leadership will cost them their dreams.
On the way to Point Dume, we saw rows of chairs set up along the beach. On the way back, people waited there. A string quartet played. Young men and women stood at the edge of the sand, dressed in nice clothes but barefoot, watching the café opposite. When the father escorted the bride across the road, he paused upon reaching the beach, as if rethinking his decision to give her away. The guests laughed appreciatively. He then escorted his daughter down the aisle, and presented her to the young man who waited before the priest. The bride smiled, and her eyes glowed as she gazed up at the groom.
Long after she should have grown tired of my numerous faults, my wife still looks at me that way. It reminds me of how Nova looked at Taylor, and the way Cornelius looked at Zera. I hope that the bride and groom will look that way at each other for the rest of their lives.