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On Saturday, Matt Reeves, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, and returning star Andy Serkis stopped by for a press conference to promote Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes during Wondercon. During their press tour, they talked about their connection to the original film, how the human characters have evolved in the aftermath of the virus outbreak, the shaky relationship between the humans and apes, and more. So hit the jump to read the five things we learned about the film.

5. Narrative Setting and the Relationship Two Warring Factions
Because this is a sequel to Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, and the film is set in the same universe as the original film, starring Charleston Heston, director Matt Reeves talked about where the film was set, and how it would affect the human characters, their future, and the relationship between man and ape.

When I got involved, they had actually jumped father down the line, closer to Planet of the Apes than I ever wanted to and I thought I was not going to do this movie. I thought oh: “that’s what you guys want to do,” because I think you should start earlier because there’s a long and interesting path that’s all about the lives of these people and how they’re affected in this situation. The idea would be that the next phase of this story would be how those lives continue in this struggle. It’s an ongoing struggle the way that our lives are as well. So it seemed to me that this was a moment where you could actually explore that question, the co-existence between these two populations that were struggling for survival.

On the relationship between the ape faction and the human faction, Reeves said:

Reeves: “For me the idea was that it’s really a story of two families. There’s a human family and there’s an ape family and that’s what the colony is. That’s the human family. The difference is the apes are on the ascendancy. The idea is we start in this ape world and we’re following their development. In a way it mirrors our own tribal development and you see as language is coming into being and all of this stuff, and you’re seeing all the bonds that have been formed and the next generation that’s coming and the civilization they’re building, they’re really on the way up. The humans, the colony, they have just had the most massive tragedy happen to them and they are a family that’s trying to heal itself. So these two families have to find some way to survive and the stakes are all about the things that they care about, and also there’s the question for the humans deeply about what it is that they’ve lost. The idea in this story for the humans is what it took even to still be here, what was lost along the way and what’s worth fighting for a his point. All of those questions I think are very emotional questions.”

4. There is no clear villain in the film.
In Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, one could make the argument that humans were the villains of the story, with the way some zookeepers treated monkeys, apes, gorillas, etc. Others might say the apes were, but for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, there are no clear villains. In fact Reeves says there are no villains in the film at all. Instead the film is about survival, unity, and trying to make peace in a time of the brink of war.

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3. Reeves’ connection to Planet Of The Apes, and how that with shaped what we will see in Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
During the press conference, Reeves talked about his personal connection to the original Planet of the Apes, and how those sequels, their narrative, inspired him to direct the sequel.

Reeves: The Thing About Planet Of The Apes was that it was my childhood. I mean I was so obsessed with that movie, and as a kid seeing that movie the first thing you want to do is actually become one of those apes, because they are so fascinating, so interesting. Seeing apes on horse back with guns, that’s a pretty powerful image. And I had an eight-minute reel of Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, which I would watch until it broke, I mean I was obsessed. The great thing about Rise having been a life long fan was that having most wanting to be an ape, and once I saw that movie I was an ape, and the reason was that was I never suspected have been able to be done was that I had an emotional identification with it. That blew me away, I thought, “Oh my god, I can’t believe now I know that feel that character is feeling, in a way that most human characters in that story is Caesar, and what Andy did,” and I was so blown away by that, and I thought wow. What is so exciting about Planet of the Apes, of course the secret is it is all about how the animals get in charge, well we [the humans] are the animals, and the idea of how the animals get in charge, the story is about us.

2. On how the complex story actually allowed Reeves to set the outcome and explore the uncharted narratives of the Apes franchise.
Reeves talked about how to tell a story properly, and the differences between “the stories of the what” and “the stories of the why”:

Reeves: “I had a screenwriting instructor who I loved many years ago, who talked to me about stories. He said, ‘There are the kind of stories that are about the what, then there are the stories that are about the why.’ If you already know what happened, then it becomes about the why, and the why is about psychology and about character.”

1. How much do the humans know about the outside world in after the virus nearly wiped out humanity.
Gary Oldman actually talked about his character, and the community he represents. Because this takes place after the virus initially spread in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, humans have lost contact with each other, and without the proper people, communitcation across the globe has been cut off. Oldman address how humans have survived since then, and what kind of new currency has been established in order to survive.

Oldman: “Initially, we don’t know that there are apes there. This community has survived the flu, the epidemic, which has wiped out a huge part of the world. We believe that the military has done their job and that they’ve wiped out the apes. The thing is, we have food, we have water but the currency in the movie for want of a better word is electricty. That’s the currency,” Oldman declared. “We need that to communicate to the outside world to actually find out if there is anyone out there. Or how many are out there? Who is out there? We believe for all intents and purposes that we could be the only survivors. Then of course we discover — cut to a community of apes doing their thing with their family and they think we’ve all been wiped out. Then of course, we discover each other.”

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters July 11.

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By Michael Lee

Michael Lee has an English and Communications degree from Concordia University Irvine. He is a fan of films that are comic-book adaptations and dry witty comedies.

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