By James Pavel
The fundamental difference between the apes and the humans in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is that the apes are determined to create a just and formidable society, while the humans are predominantly concerned with regaining access to their greatest obsession – technology.
Never before did I believe that I would feel so ashamed to be on the opposing side, (team Human,) yet there I was praying that Caesar, the ape leader, would banish us from existence.
While a killer virus has wiped away the majority of the human population and the apes have flourished over the past ten winters, a group of men, women and children have remained immune to the virus and have set up camp in the heart of San Francisco. The apes settle for peace, but of course the humans seek a method of damaging this brittle communion by pleading for access to the water reservoir, which just happens to be in ape territory.
Now why must the humans have access to the reservoir? Even after a decade of just living to survive, humans are hell bent on re-constructing the damn, thereby stimulating electricity and thus resurrecting their precious technological gadgets.
It’s as though the unit of human survivors don’t actually believe they have been living, but rather have been waiting for the chance to once again have access to dozens of tools and appliances that ostensibly, make life complete.
It’s as though our tools have evolved so dramatically and dynamically, that the concept of fostering a life without our technologies would be too severe of a shock to the stimuli.
The survivors are so focused on the reservoir as their means to re-claiming their past lives that they are willing to go to war with the apes if they are not granted access. It’s a blinding addiction and one that has such a strangle-hold on their desires that they are literally willing to die for it.
Although it has been ten winters since the dramatic shift in Earth’s hierarchy took place, the humans have progressed very little in the decade of salvation.
It’s possible that present-day civilization would have a harder time recovering from a global crisis because we exist in such a wealth of riches. Someone recovering from the Great Potato Famine or the Black Plague would no doubt be devastated by the loss of life, but their possessions would not have been depleted in such vast numbers as someone from the modern day. To lose not only our loved ones, but our hot showers, iPods and NFL Sundays may leave us in a state of infinite disarray.
Kerri Russell’s character, Ellie, loses a daughter throughout the original ordeal and although it is an understandably sensitive subject, she appears to have come to terms with the death. Yet, she is still possessed to help with the water reservoir functionality, to the point where she volunteers for a trip to Ape Village, where death is only but a few slivers from certainty. So despite the dangers that she is well aware of, the opportunity to flick a switch or plug something in and gain results is a salivating opportunity for her.
In a sense, her love of technology has come to trump even her affinity for her own human flesh.
Dreyfus, Gary Oldman’s character, is a pillar of calamity and a symbol of hope yet is finally rattled out of his stoic state when the electricity is revived and his iPad glows to life. Yes, it is the pictures of what we presume are his two boys that ultimately bring him to sobs, but it is also the knowledge that his iPad has been revived that is just as exhilarating as the contents of this modern device.
The apes recognize that there exists victory in surviving another day. Humans seem to take the breaths of life for granted, even in a state of total destruction, because they have drank from the rivers of gigabytes and memory cards for such an inordinate period of time that it has altered what we deem essential to a satisfactory existence.