Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Dawn of Understanding

On Sunday afternoon I went with wife Ruth and daughter Jocelyn to see the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Blockbuster action films are just not my thing, but the reviews have been so positive we decided to don our 3-D glasses and took a look.

We found this prequel to the prequel to the...well to all the others...to be entertaining and even thought-provoking. Without undermining your possible viewing, a virus wipes out most of humanity and one pocket of survivors lives a tough existence in  shatteredSan Francisco. The apes, escapees from medical research labs,  have established a healthy colony in the forests beyond the city. A human scouting party encounters the apes, and conflict ensues.

The themes of suspicion of "the other" and the conviction that violence is a solution to problems over diplomacy run through the film, sometimes in an overly obvious way and sometimes with nuance.  The voices of reason from both sides are often ignored.

The resonances with "first contact" between Europeans and First Nations, and the current conflict in Israel and Palestine came to mind. Lest that sound demeaning given that one group is apes, it is the apes who often come across as wiser and more restrained.

It was a bit of a relief that there were no heavy-handed references to religion as a factor in justifying the enmity between the two groups. That seems to be the flavour of the day in many films, although God knows fundamentalist religion is often "guilty as charged."

Have any of you seen this film? Are you intrigued?

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