Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Andy Serkis, Che Guevara and Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Just learned that there's a new Planet of the Apes movie out. It's supposed to be very good. The bloke who plays the main chimp character (Caesar) is Andy Serkis. He's the go-to CGI-guy for gollums, ghouls and gorillas, apparently.

Of course he's done a lot of ape watching to get the physicality just right. But what's interesting is this political aspect of his characterization:

To draw inspiration for the other side of Caesar's personality -- as the charismatic leader of an ape uprising -- Mr. Serkis thought of a human revolutionary figure: Che Guevara.

Whether the director also had Guevara in mind is another matter, of course. In any case it appears that this chimpy Che is way more successful than the original. In the movie he and his simean socialists go global with their revolution (acting locally, no doubt) and pretty much take over humanity.

It's fascinating. Guevara was basically a thug and a loser who failed repeatedly to foment revolution in every country he attempted it. (And just as well he did fail, because if he hadn't conditions would have become even worse in those nations.) Yet he's still this powerful symbol of hope, change and idealism for so many people today -- more than a few of them in the arts.

I haven't seen the movie yet so I could be way wrong here, but knowing how PC Hollywood is now I won't be surprised if Rise of the Planet of the Apes is strongly misanthropic, with lots of deep green subtextual sermonizing. (Remember Avatar. The humans were the bad guys there. So there's a good chance the apes are the good guys here.)

Political considerations aside, there is one aspect of this Guevara-gorilla link that makes perfect sense. Bloke looked a bit like an ape, didn't he? And I'm not alone in noticing the similarity, as this t-shirt makes clear


  1. Never knew much about Mr I Sure Look Purty On This T-Shirt until I saw the doco about that iconic image at Revelation a few years ago.
    Intrigued, I bought Humberto Fontova's book Exposing The Real Che Guevara. At least now I understand why Che is so attractive to so many folks who are awesome rebels inside the safety of their own heads.

  2. I haven' read that book. But the widespread adulation of Che proves that there are heaps of people who will prefer a romantic fantasy over reality every time. (Many of them are quite powerful in The Halls of Quackademe, too.)