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War For The Planet of the Apes - Matt Reeves interview

War For The Planet of the Apes

Compiled by Jack Foley

MATT Reeves talks about directing War For The Planet of the Apes and some of the challenges he faced, as well as the influences he drew on.

He also discusses why he believes the franchise as a whole has been so enduring and popular, and what to expect from the DVD release. War For The Planet Of The Apes is available on digital now and on Blu-ray and DVD from November 27, 2017.

Q. There are some brilliant battle scenes in the movie. Where did you find your inspiration for making this a war movie?
Matt Reeves: As we start War we are right in the middle of a war. They’ve been fighting for two years. And I watched a lot of classic war films, things like Paths of Glory, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Apocalypse Now, and what excited me was this idea of bringing in some spectacle, but never forgetting that in the foreground of any good war film you are always following the characters. I was trying to work with this balance between the grand and the intimate. So we shot the film on 65mm with this beautiful Alexa [camera] system that uses these great lenses. They have this beautiful portraiture quality. You see the apes dwarfed by the landscape but on the other hand you see this incredible detail on their faces. That was really exciting for me.

Q. The film closes the trilogy but opens the door for a whole new ape world…
Matt Reeves: For me, what these films had been was a story about the creation of the legend of Caesar, that he comes from these humble beginnings in Rise and leads a revolution. He is just the leader to navigate towards peace in Dawn, and he fails.

In War, I wanted to put him through a last test that would make him become the seminal figure in all ape history; all apes would look back towards him and say, ‘He is the one. He is the one who did this for us.’ He is the ape Moses! And I wanted to leave that story in a place that implies a long future ahead. The fun thing about these movies is that we start by knowing the ending because of the 1968 movie. So with Rise you already knew it would become the Planet of the Apes. The fun was watching how it becomes the planet of the apes. And that is true for all these films.

Each of the worlds from Rise to Dawn to War is very different from the Shaffner film. It doesn’t look like that world yet. It is like an ape Russian novel; we’re going chapter after chapter and we look at these characters as they struggle in the landscape, as it slowly becomes the Planet of the Apes.

Q. Why do you think the Apes series is so perennially popular?
Matt Reeves: I think the reason why the Planet of the Apes series has been so captivating for people is because really it holds up a mirror to ourselves. We are apes, first of all. And we often forget that we are animals. We push that off to the side. But that is what we are. And we struggle within ourselves and the battle between our rational sides and our instinctive sides is the light and dark in all of us. It is a very, very powerful story and I think the Planet of the Apes reflects that battle. It is a pretty exciting franchise to be working in, where you get to tell stories that on the surface seem sci-fi but at the core are about who we are.

Q. What do you hope to include on the home entertainment release in terms of extra material?
Matt Reeves: I am not quite sure yet what we will include on the home video release but there are a lot of scenes that didn’t make it into the film. It was a deliberately epic film and there are many scenes, as epic as it is, that didn’t make it in because the movie would have been over three hours long. So I think it’ll be pretty good fun to put a bunch of that stuff on there.

Read our interview with Andy Serkis

War For The Planet Of The Apes is available on digital now and on Blu-ray and DVD from November 27, 2017.

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