New Planet of the Apes won’t match classic’s take on futuristic fashion

Posted by Rob Noble on August 11, 2011

One of the things I love most about science fiction set in the “near future” is how far off the mark they are fashion-wise. In so many movies, the day-after-tomorrow clothing choices seem like a mid-1970′s Ben Cooper Halloween costume.   Leaving behind the silver unitard look, other movies follow a stylishly utopian theme (ala Gattaca) and make everyone exceptionally well-dressed and early-60’s retro. I like this Kennedy-era style, and it fits well with the film’s Space Age theme. I hope one day in the future to look like young Jude Law. Others try, really hard, to come up with something new and plausible.

So it’s interesting to me to see the ads for the “new” Planet of the Apes film.  Check it out here, if you haven’t seen this newest take on the monkeys-take-over classic.

Unlike Tim Burton’s terrible, non-canon, not-remake of POTA, this film is both an origin story and a remake. Specifically, it’s a remake of the fourth in the original series, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. And of the many reasons I love this one the most, the primary reason is that the costumers and director got the near-future period details just right: 1972’s idea of men’s 1991 fashion is right on.

Let me explain: There’s an 18-year jump in the film’s narrative between numbers 3 and 4. The 3rd film takes place when it’s set, 1972. The apes die at the end after a brief fling with media darling-hood, and the 70’s get on without them. The 1980’s are supposed to pass roughly as they did here, in our non-POTA universe. And then in the late 80’s all the world’s pets die, apes are trained as domestics and in 1991 they rebel, which is where the fourth film starts.

Look at the photo on the left of Ricardo Montalban’s Armando character, in 1972. Now look at the change in appearance on the right. That’s what a stylish, single late middle-age man who runs in covert political circles is imagined to dress like in 1991.

Now look at him again, really.  THAT’S ER-ERA GEORGE CLOONEY!

The trim facial hair, the Caesar haircut, the mock turtleneck, the coller-less, almost Nehru jacket, all of it matches how stylish middle-aged men were supposed to dress according to GQ and Details magazine. Nice, well-fitting slacks. Even the gray temples match. Truly, this is the yardstick that all other “near future” costumers should use to measure.

But it’s not perfect. I’ll say they got it almost perfect. If anything, they were too stylish even for 1991 and that kind of Gwynneth-era Ben Affleck goatee is really more 1997.

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