Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Planet of the Apes

(Blogger’s Note: I had hoped to contribute more to this blog more frequently. My plan was to list science fiction conventions, review books and movies, put up short stories, and maybe tease with the beginnings of a novel or two. Unfortunately, mundane world events conspire against me on this. I will attempt to write more from now on... but I make no promises. Thanks for checking in occasionally.)

The other night I was watching Planet of the Apes and I suddenly realized that Chuck Heston and the boys should have known they were on Earth the very first night there. Once they got a look at the night sky they might have suspected that it was Earth but once they saw the Moon, they would have known the truth, which ruins the big ending.

True, early on we’re told that there have been clouds each night, but in the day there is no evidence of this total overcast and in one scene we see the sun setting, some scattered clouds to give sky color, but no evidence of that total overcast. Not to mention that the Moon had be seen in the daytime.

And, remember, this is Earth so we can’t postulate some kind of a natural phenomenon that forms each night to obscure the stars and the Moon. Nope, this is what, in science fiction, we should think of as a fatal flaw. Everyone pretending that the planet is something other than Earth, but the very first time they, meaning the astronauts, saw the Moon, they would have known they truth.

This reminds me of something that Isaac Asimov once said about Alien. Everyone who reads science fiction understands the big flaw in that film... Why not put on your spacesuits and see how well the alien breathes in a vacuum...

And, while I’m on this kick, why not mention the big problem in Starship Troopers. Remember the fort they find with the humans inside slaughtered? And then they’re attacked by flying bugs? If you face that sort of a threat, and you’ve built a fort, why don’t you put a roof on it?

Or what about Pitch Black? Here’s a planet that has three suns and once every twenty years, they all align so that the planet has night. So what happens? Creatures that can’t tolerate the sun come out and feed on everything that dwells on the surface. But what sort of environmental pressures would encourage such a species to develop? I mean, they can only live out of the light but the light is only gone once in every twenty years. It seems that such a species would fail to evolve, given the environmental pressures and they certainly wouldn’t be able to take down everything that can live in the sun.

Anyway, I wanted to mention this, and while I believe I’m probably not the first to think of it, I did make the connection on my own. As a writer, I try to anticipate the questions the readers are going to ask and try to provide answers for them. Unfortunately, in Planet of the Apes, there really is no way to answer the question about the Moon. But, if they see it, then the whole scattering scene at the end collapses.

1 comment:

Bob Koford said... I'm going to have to dig out my copy of Planet of the Apes, and watch it again as well. I admit I hadn't thought of it. I was caught up in the long journey in space aspect of it, but I think you are correct. At some point you would think they would have noticed the moon, and the all-too-familiar set up of all the stars.

Nice one.