VANITY FAIR
Tale of the Apes
March 2001
Photography Director: Susan White


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Famous for her social-documentary work, photographer Mary Ellen Mark also has a long history of shooting film sets, going back to Fellini’s Satyricon, which she shot for Look magazine in the late 60s. After photographing the set of Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow for the May 1999 issue, Mark returned to his set this month for his re-creation of Planet of the Apes. “This was one of the more fascinating film sets because of the incredible costumes and makeup, where man was being transformed into ape,” she says. “But it’s always interesting to enter Tim Burton’s world. It always holds something quite extraordinary.”

We’ll always have Paris… I could’ve been a contender…. Take your stinking paws off me damn, dirty ape!

Yes, Planet of the Apes occupies a hallowed spot in Hollywood history –it’s the Grand Illusion of the men-in-monkey-suits genre. But now the 1968 film in which Charlton Heston uttered the immortal line above is being “reimagined,” to use the publicists’ word of choice, by the director Tim Burton. This Planet of the Apes will tell an entirely new story but will still feature a human astronaut (Mark Wahlberg) landing on a planet ruled by various chimpanzees (Tim Roth, Helena Bonham-carter), gorillas (Michael Clarke Duncan), and orangutans (Paul Giamatti). The planet, however, will not with a loin-clothed Wahlberg on his knees cursing in front of a half-buried Statue of Liberty, though executive producer Richard Zanuck promises “another wonderful surprise and entertaining ending.” Better yet, Heston will be making a cameo appearance, this time as a damm, dirty ape himself.

According to Zanuck, who was the head of production of Twentieth Century Fox, when the original film was made, “The initial picture, when you analyze it, actually had very little action. The astronauts were captured and ran around a bit,” but that was it. Zanuck promises that the new film will feature “hordes of apes in battle,” and adds, “We don’t have any lofty philosophical questions to answer with this picture. It’s today filmmaking approach. The equipment is better, everything is better and bigger and costlier.” The Armageddon of the men-in-monkey-suits genre?


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Zaius it ain’t so Director Tim Burton with his beloved Chihuahua, Poppy, flanked by a couple of gorillas. Photographed on set in Los Angeles, December 2000. The ape makeup is by three-time Academy Award winner Rick Baker. Sure they can run a planet, but can they ride little trikes and smoke cigars?


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Fetching chimpanzee Helena Bonham-Carter with hero Mark Wahlberg.


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Tim Roth as an evil chimp.


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Estella Warren in the scantily clad “human female” part.


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Kris Kristofferson as her dad.

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