PLANET OF THE APES
What does a planet of apes look like? According to production designer Rick Heinrichs, it contains forests, jungles and a primordial world that would have a sense of both old and new worlds. "We wanted our locations and sets to have a duality of being both animalistic and civilized, which are not necessarily harmonious," he notes.
Leo Davidson's introduction to this world is a violent one. After crash landing on the planet, he suddenly is thrust into a harsh, physical landscape — an environment of total chaos that provides a stark contrast to his spaceship's controlled environment.
The filmmakers scouted locations around the world for the proper jungle bog. Eventually, creative concerns necessitated building the jungle near downtown Los Angeles — inside the sound stages of L.A. Center Studios. "We looked at some wonderful rainforests in Hawaii," Heinrichs remembers. "But we learned it would be difficult in that environment to get the kind of depth we needed. We also needed something that was more like a 'machine' for the action — a set in which we could move around trees and other objects to accommodate the stunts and action. It became clear that what we needed was the sense of the jungle, not the literalness of the jungle."
Other, more exotic locations were also within relatively easy reach. The production filmed key scenes on the Big Island of Hawaii, on the stark lava fields of the still-active volcano, Mt. Kilauea. Heinrichs points out that the contrasting jungle and lava environments provide "a primordial feel, presenting a tableau that is almost earth- like and familiar: yet we sense that this is a new planet with vast stretches of no-man's land terrain."
Lake Powell. Arizona, was another key location — and also served as a subtle homage to the 1968 "Planet of the Apes," which filmed key scenes there. Burton and Heinrichs chose a Lake Powell beach called Independence Bay. located several miles from the original film's locales, for night scenes set at an ape army
Daytime found Mark Wahlberg and others climbing the area's massive age-old cliffs, which were punctuated with ominous effigies of apes.
Independence Bay is not quite like any other area at Lake Powell," says Heinrichs. "But it is, like the lava fields, another desolate, otherworldly landscape, alien but very beautiful, muscular and sculptural."
The Trona Pinnacles, located in the high California desert near Death Valley, is a unique geological site (and national landmark) that served as yet another location that enhanced the film's otherworldly feel. Between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago, when the area was a chain of interconnected lakes, the Trona Pinnacles formed underwater through the interaction of blue-green algae and chemical, geothermal conditions. Calcium carbonate formations developed in a reef-like fashion with more than 500 spires of tufa, some as high as 140 feet, rising from what is now the bed of the Searles Dry Lake basin. The decayed structure of spires in the vast desert expanse served as the setting for a battle between the newly revolutionized humans and the all-powerful ape army.
Heinrichs returned to a more controlled environment to create and build a civilization from scratch. The production constructed the interior of "Ape City" on an enormous sound stage, whose every square inch was filled with a thoroughly imagined habitat to support the living, working life of the ape civilization. Here, the apes sleep, eat, raise families, play politics, wheel and deal their economy, entertain, gossip and play out all of their intrigues.
Heinrichs designed the city to reflect a struggle between nature and architecture. Vines entangled massive stone outcroppings, into which the filmmakers carved dwellings and shops adorned with bright tapestries. Towering cliffs overlooked narrow streets and w
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