#tbt Forget ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’: Watch ‘Ape and Super-Ape’!


“Look out! Here comes the boss!” exclaims narrator Stephen Murray in Ape and Super-Ape. The ape that bounds through the jungle isn’t Caesar, the popular ape played by motion-capture actor Andy Serkis in the new Planet of the Apes franchise. The final instalment of the awkwardly titled series hits theatres this Friday with War for the Planet of the Apes, but as impressive as the fake apes are in these CGI extravaganzas, true primates are best enjoyed without 3D glasses.

Skip the over-priced multiplexes and see the real deal with the apes in Bert Haanstra’s 1972 documentary Ape and Super-Ape. Rather than imagine a bunch of apes riding horses and brandishing machine guns, this film takes audiences into the thick of the jungle to observe the animals in the wild. What’s really great about the film is the way it humanizes the animals through narration and storytelling. The voiceover speaks about the chimps with the same language one uses for human families and interaction. Featuring sequences of groovy 70s disco music, this funky and Oscar-nominated nature doc gives audiences the full tour of the animal kingdom to consider what sets humans apart from the non-human animals with whom we share the world.

Ape and Super-Ape was controversial for its speculation about the relationship between overpopulation and aggression as human development accelerates with frightening numbers. “Because of this, we’re obliged to extend our environment,” the film says, “always at the cost of other life.” But as the documentary shifts from the natural landscape to the urban jungle and becomes increasingly frenzied, the film anticipates a war of its own. As the narrator says, “There’s a lot about their behaviour that gets one thinking.”

Watch Ape and Super-Ape below: