This is about the recent reboot of the Planet of the Apes trilogy, particularly the first movie: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes“.
If you haven’t seen it, it tells the story of a group of scientists who are trying to find the cure to human ailments by experimenting on apes. However they lose control of the genetic process and end up accidentally producing a deadly virus that kills most humans, but boosts the intelligence of all apes in the lab.
Hence: the end of humanity, the rise of the apes.
We can interpret it either as a metaphor of modern times, with the role of science and evolution in society, or as a biblical allegory.
Overall it’s yet another portrayal of humans as demiurges or demi-gods. Creators and destroyers.
A theme upon which Hollywood has been insisting quite a lot lately in different forms. Prometheus, Robocop, Man of Steel (the superior race from space), etc…The list is huge and not just recent.
These are movies that speak of the origins of species, whether we call the “divine son” Adam, Caesar, Kal-El…it’s the same archetype.
In the Apes flick the laboratory’s name is Gen-Sys (Genesis) and the leading ape is baptized Caesar as a tribute to the famous roman emperor, leader and prime man. A little nod to old class imperialism, hierarchy, survival of the fittest, but more importantly the victory of masculine rationalism (represented by brain enhancements) over the forces of nature. Of ego over instinct.
The movie begins with the death-sacrifice of the mother. Consequently it continues with the revelation of the Father and the rise of the Son.
The scientist who adopts the ape Caesar at one point tells him “I am your father”. Well, certainly he doesn’t imply it literally, does he?
What he means is not that he’s his daddy, but that he is the Father.
As Erich Neumann would put it, this is the reenactment of the rise of Horus, son of Osiris and Isis. A myth that in old times represented the end of matriarchal societies (the Great Mother) and the ascent of the patriarchal father in the heavens (Osiris) who bestows his power over the avenging son (Horus) on earth.
This is precisely what “reason over nature” means as well, because as nature is the Mother, reason is the father-son unity, the differentiated ego that breaks from the uroboric embrace of matriarchate to ascend as an individual ego (phallic masculine).
One aspect of the ascension of the son Caesar is symbolized by the adoption of language. Caesar is the one who speaks the word and gives the first commandment “No”, do not kill.
The Law of the Father.
To put it in psychological terms: “speech” is what breaks the holistic bondage of the apes (instinct) before the rise of egoic separation.
But don’t we find the same idea in John’s gospel: “In the beginning was the Word” ?
Spelling a word. Casting a spell. Speaking reality into existence.
As the term Father didn’t mean “daddy”, this word isn’t just “talk”, it’s the Word. That which guides the chosen apes to their new land. We better call it Logos.
Familiar tale, isn’t it?
And you’ll be surprised if you start analyzing the most unassuming movies this way. We are immersed into this story up to our necks, in many different fashions and forms and we don’t even realize it.
We shouldn’t rush to condemning the whole movie, because there are universal themes that speak to us as humanity, but the general context and narrative moves the entire drama towards recognizable motifs.
Summarizing: you can interpret the movie as a modern take on biblical themes, or as the other side of the coin, that is an example of cultural Darwinism and transhumanism, with white men as genetic manipulators of the next species in the evolutionary chain.
Whether the perspective is Darwinian or religious, we’ll find that at the very roots of both views there’s a common core. Whether the “chosen ones” are selected by “natural evolution” or God, we are using the same concept.
This is also an invitation to look into those parts of theoretical science that resemble religious beliefs and that we adopt as temporary formulas (faithfully waiting for “further evidence”) not realizing where these ideas come from in the first place.
Same archetypal projections.
To give you a different example, let’s consider a popular TV show like Ancient Aliens, presenting aliens as genetic engineers of humanity simply based on myopic interpretations of ancient art and mythology. I know how laughable it sounds, but these ideas are growing wildly among many and should be taken into account within the whole cultural frame of our society.
Caesars, Kal-Els, Elohim or aliens. Always gods and supermen in a planet of apes.
It’s the amalgamation of old mythological religion and science. A new paradigm for the modern “alienated” western man.
At this point we should keep in mind that we are not making an argument in favor of one world-view over the other, but a structural analysis of our culture. We aren’t here to raise our favorite flag, but to drop them all.
We think we live in a world of logic, like the scientists in the movie, don’t we? Looking for bones, interpreting data, finding “truth”…
We lost our bond with the world around us and classical mythology feels alien to us.
We are so immersed into an extremely psychotic rationalism made of numbers and rhetoric that the only way we read those stories is by taking them literally (as if literal interpretations were even possible).
It’s the the ultimate fall of modern man, enchained within his own words. A world of logotypes.
“Planet of the Apes” is our mythology. White man as divinities genetically manipulating a lab-Moses that will guide a selected group across a new global Armageddon.
Death by water, fire, pestilence or virulence? Either way, it’s the end of the world. Be afraid, human. Pick your God or your Caesar.
Is it by chance that the symbol of Caesar’s home is a solar cross?
The thing, my friends, is that we don’t have an answer to the origins of humanity and the universe, but we’ll always formulate one.
However the question is: does the current answer serve you? Is it truly yours?
It’s actually been given to us, hasn’t it? Long long ago and kept alive in many forms through the magical holy wooden wand of Hollywood, whether you’re into sacred books, maths, UFO, man in white or men in black.
Let’s not stop at the surface, at the rites and dogmas, let’s look deeper, at the core of culture. We’ll find the same ideological seed, whether we pick religion or scientific creed as our ethical guideline. We are the gods AND the apes.
However, in fairness, there’s also a psychological cause behind all this, something humbly and vulnerably human: no matter what we do, as long as we are born from a mother and a father our minds will always project the same dualistic archetypes onto the cosmos/nature/the universe/groups/leaders/nations/the stars…
But when things fall out of balance in our minds, our actions follow accordingly.
There’s a big difference between adopting an unquestioned mythology handed down to us and discovering your own.
One constrains you, the other frees you. The rest are fancy stories.
“Civilization began the first time an angry person cast a word instead of a rock.” – Sigmund Freud
Featured images from the movies:
- Man of Steel (2013)
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)