It might seem strange or facetious, or even downright perverse, to connect this movie – ostensibly a science fiction film about talking monkeys – to the dark events of the last few weeks on the world stage, war, death, destruction, suffering, but it is particularly resonant on all these scores, perhaps precisely because so much blood has been spilled to no good end and no conceivably justifiable purpose in real life.
The core theme and message of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is how similarities transcend and unite, even across apparently wide gulfs of difference. Basic emotions are shared despite class, colour, and creed. Like our simian cousins humans are social animals, most often choosing to live in groups. How we organise those groups though can to lead to problems.
How do we make decisions? Who gets to make decisions? What outcomes do we want? Which outcomes are best? How do we judge? How do we achieve them? By consensus? By domination? Peacefully? Violently? Are some things important enough to die for? To kill for? What’s life for anyway? Love? Power? Plenty? Happiness? Dignity? Control? Duty? Responsibility? Belief? Me? Mine? Ours? Us?
All of these questions in one form or another have arisen in the last few weeks – and are at the centre of events in Gaza/Israel, Ukraine, Syria, and Ferguson, USA. As well as each of lives and all of our homes.
Power and Control, Pain and Death, Conflict and Sorrow.
Or another way?
An unlikely place to seek ruminations on all these questions concerning the foundations of the human condition perhaps, but nevertheless this is what this film does, and does it very well and even somewhat poignantly.
Thought provoking and well worth a watch.