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6078427110_5686c452e9_zThe Planet of the Apes movie series has long been associated with blockbusters, CGI and dystopian science-fiction. The franchise has also, however, always had a number of Christian themes woven through the films. With the 50th anniversary edition of the original “Planet of the Apes” now available, it is the perfect time for Christians to revisit the movies and find the spiritual themes that are present in the most unlikely films.

Original Series

The original series of the Planet of the Apes began in 1968 with the now-famous “Planet of the Apes,” the post-apocalyptic story of space travelers crash-landing in a future where intelligent apes have become the dominant species. “Planet of the Apes,” “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” “Escape from the Planet of the Apes,” “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” and “Battle for the Planet of the Apes” are the five movies that make up the original series.

The ape society found in the first movies of the original series has been compared to the Greco-Roman society that the Apostle Paul attempted to convert. Within this society, Dr. Zira and Cornelius do not believe the lies that they are fed and instead seek a whole truth just as early Christian converts left behind idolatry.

The events of “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” and “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” will tell a story that is very familiar to Christian viewers. Cornelius and Zira travel back in time to escape the destruction of their world in “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” but the humans of the past want to kill their infant, Caesar. Zira and Cornelius are killed, but they manage to switch Caesar with another infant before his death allowing him to survive in secrecy. During “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,” Caesar lives secretly with his human foster-father before becoming angry at the treatment of the ape slaves that surround him. Caesar begins a revolution that leads to the apes escaping and defeating their captors. The parallels with the story of Moses are impossible to miss.

Rebooted Series

The rebooted series also contains noticeable Christian themes. The first movie, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” is largely a warning tale about the dangers of humans playing God. The third movie of the trilogy, “War for the Planet of the Apes,” is similar to “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” and “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” in that it mirrors the tale of Moses. “War for the Planet of the Apes,” however, more closely echoes the latter half of Moses’s tale and the Exodus instead of his beginnings. In “War for the Planet of the Apes,” the leader of the apes, Caesar, has to lead his people across the desert to a new home when they are threatened by human military forces. Caesar leads his people to safety, but, like Moses, Caesar dies before he can truly enter his people’s new home.

Most people do not think of post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies as being heavily Christian influenced, but both Planet of the Apes series have some surprisingly Christian threads. Check out the 50th anniversary edition of this classic movie series and enjoy discovering its spiritual roots all over again.

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