Choose Your Own Adventure: The Power of Perspective in ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

A masterfully murky narrative.
By  · Published on July 27th, 2017

A masterfully murky narrative.

One of the more fascinating aspects of Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and this whole new trilogy in fact, is its narrative perspective. In all the earlier films – the five from the original series and Tim Burton’s abomination – the apes were the bad guys, no question about it. Sure, you had a couple who were helpful, but by and large the lines were drawn very clearly: humans good, apes bad.

This time around, though, that line is blurred if not erased all-together. Dawn in particular fails to establish which side is in the right and which side is in the wrong, instead objectively depicting the conflict and allowing the viewers to decide for themselves which camp they’re in. This might not sound so daring, but when you consider that science-fiction is built upon conflict – man vs. alien, man vs. space, man vs. technology – it’s downright novel. What the film does instead is to present both philosophies, the apes’ that man is evil and man’s that apes and humans can get along, and then portray Caesar’s intellectual struggle in deciding which one he believes.

That, of course, it a nutshell summation, so for the details I give you the following, fascinating video essay from YouTube channel Films & Stuff that dives deep into the tricks of perspective employed by Reeves and writers Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Mark Bomback to craft a narrative that’s as exciting morally as it is viscerally.

Related Topics: ,

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist