Planet of the Apes: The Forbidden Zone  
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APES MOVIES | MUSIC | SCREENPLAYS | LOST SCENES

Apes Production Information Guide: Synopsis

SYNOPSIS

Hurtled some 2,000 years through time and space, measured in terms of interstellar mathematics, four American astronauts crashland in the wilderness of an unidentified planet when their spacecraft suffers a navigational malfunction. The lone female in the quartet dies, but the male survivors trek across countless miles of arid desert until they discover life-supporting vegetation and stumble upon a sub-human populace living like animals in the woods.

Their freedom is short-lived, however, for they are captured by a band of mounted hunters -- uniformed gorillas on horseback. The astronauts are separated from each other. Dodge, a Negro, (JEFF BURTON) is mortally wounded and ends up as a mounted specimen in the simian's museum of natural history. Landon (ROBERT GUNNER) is taken to a laboratory where ape scientists remove his frontal lobes in medical experimentation.

The group's erstwhile leader, Taylor (CHARLTON HESTON -- Ed. Note: In the actual draft, "Thomas" is scratched out in favor of "Taylor"), is wounded severely in the throat and taken to an animal hospital where he is incarcerated after primitive medical attention. As he recovers consciousness he is amazed to find that he is a prisoner in a society dominated by intelligent simians, an autocratic social order in which humans are feared as beasts of prey -- and treated as such.

Taylor's wound renders him temporarily mute, but he is able to convince Dr. Zira (KIM HUNTER) and Cornelius (RODDY McDOWALL), a young archaeologist -- both of whom are chimpanzees -- that he can speak, read and write. At first they refuse to believe that a human can surpass the simian in intelligence, and their interest in Taylor is strongly discouraged by Dr. Zaius, (MAURICE EVANS), a stately orangutan who is one of the chiefs of state.

In an effort to spare Taylor from torture and experimental vivisection by simian medical scientists, Zira tries to convince Zaius that the astronaut should be used for a series of behavioral tests. But Zaius argues that to suggest that any insight into simian nature can be learned from a study of man is arrogant nonsense. Humans, he says, breed too quickly, denude the forests and farmlands, ravage simian crops, and are entirely a menace. But one wonders if he is not pondering other unspoken thoughts.

Taylor is given a female human cellmate, Nova, (LINDA HARRISON), and it is Zira's intention to mate the pair. But Taylor tell her he is no mere mutation -- but really a human from a friendly neighbor planet. She discusses simian theories of evolution, including her belief that ape may be descended from a lower primate -- possibly a human. She cannot accept the reverse as being true.

When Zaius learns that Taylor can now communicate by the spoken word, he feels he must silence him and orders an immediate frontal lobotomy on the astronaut. Zira, Cornelius and Lucius (LOU WAGNER), a young chimpanzee, resent the infringement upon their freedom of thought and speech, and arrange for Taylor's escape from captivity in the capital city of the ape civilization. They set out for the Forbidden Zone, the area where the spaceship crashed -- a vast territory to which ape citizens are forbidden to travel. In an earlier exploration of this zone, Cornelius, the archaeologist, had discovered artifacts suggesting that a highly advanced human society had populated the territory centuries ago.

Zaius and his gorilla militiamen pursue them, but Taylor seizes Zaius as hostage and the gorillas are ordered to retreat. Zaius confesses that he has been aware all along of the prior existence of this highly intelligent human society -- but he fears the rebirth of such a civilization. He points out that alone among God's primates, the human kills for sport, lust and greed. The simian religion preaches that "the human will make a desert of his home and yours.... he should be driven back to his jungle lair for he is the harbinger of death."

Taylor offers to release Zaius unharmed if the latter will promise not to press charges of heresy and insubordination against Zira and Cornelius. Then Taylor and Nova flee deeper into the Forbidden Zone. "What will he find there?" Zira asks Zaius.

And Zaius replies: "His destiny."

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(NOTE: The shocking conclusion of "Planet o the Apes" will not be revealed in any synopsis.)