Film & History: Planet of the Apes as History

Amy C. Chambers

    Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


    This thesis contends that all types of film hold historical value and should be appreciated as relevant and valuable sources for contemporary historians. It is argued that feature films, and in particular fictional feature films, are overlooked as sources of information for scholars analysing contemporary history. Planet of the Apes (dir. Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968) is used as a case study to indicate the breadth of information available within the complex audio-visual text.This study contributes to the study of the under-researched film Planet of the Apes that holds an important place within the history of the American science fiction genre. The film is worthy of study because it can be understood as a countercultural document. It reflects upon, engages with and at times critiques the complexities of the political and social culture of the United States in the 1960s. Close analysis of the film provides insight into the attitudes of the filmmakers and their intended audience revealing a intricate commentary on a broad array of concerns and movements including the civil right movement, the women’s liberation movement, the Vietnam War and the fear of the advancement and proliferation of nuclear technology.Fictional feature films, such as Planet of the Apes, can and should be used to provide a better understanding of a particular historical period supplementing the archival materials traditionally consulted by historians. Film is interpreted in this thesis as a primary source deserving of respect and incorporation into the study of contemporary history.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Bangor University
    Place of PublicationBangor
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


    • History
    • Film Studies
    • Historical Methodology
    • Science Fiction
    • American Counterculture


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