Talking About Dawn of the Planet of the Apes by Rowena J Ronson
Issues of leadership, conflict and deceit came up for me as I watched the long anticipated sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Rise ended with the simultaneous escape of the apes into the Redwood forests of California with the virus, created in the scientists’ labs – ironically tested on these fine animals – spreading its deadly infection globally throughout the human race. I started watching Dawn holding my allegiance with the apes.
They seemed to be living a peaceful existence, in harmony with nature, and without the necessity for destroying the planet’s natural resources. Their needs were simple and in tune with their surroundings, their communication subtle and respectful. Conflicts were handled with ease and their leader, strong and compassionate.
In fact it was their leader, Caesar, who really captured my attention. He was a commanding and powerful autocrat who led his tribe with wisdom, fairness and integrity. And if his authority was questioned in any way, he would show his disapproval with his stance and emotions without reserve. I knew he listened to both his head and his heart, and therefore possessed an intuitive nature. and I felt I would be able to trust his decisions if I was a member of his team. I also suddenly had renewed respect for this authoritative choice of leadership. I questioned my more democratic style and the benefits of being open to new ideas.
The other interesting observation I had while watching the film was how my allegiance tended to shift from ape to man and back again. Once I really listened and could see the situation from the perspective of any particular aspect, I would then feel myself edging towards that side of the seesaw. Back and forth I went. Each time, my focus and aspirations were for the rise of the oppressed although in truth, both sides were oppressed and oppressor concurrently.
I find myself experiencing similar feelings watching the current propaganda spilling out across the world about the conflict in Israel and Gaza. The speeches, letters and articles full of opinions, perspectives and fabrications are compelling and manipulative by intention. It is nigh on impossible to see the wood from the trees or to feel real trust for whatever argument is being promoted, and indeed justified, at any one time.
In the age of innocence portrayed during the dawn of Dawn, Caesar said, ‘Ape must not kill ape’ and I wished for more peaceful times, where life was respected and being a member of one’s own race was experienced as an honour and a privilege. Russell Brand speaks of universal connectedness and asks us to question our paradigms in order to make subtle yet monumental shifts in our consciousness. I like his style.
And I would recommend watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for whatever lessons you might learn from the experience.