The Lawgiver (Planet of the Apes)


The Lawgiver (Planet of the Apes)

The Lawgiver is an orangutan character in the science fiction movie series "Planet of the Apes". While mentioned and quoted in the first two installments of the series, the Lawgiver only appears in the final "Apes" film, 1973's "Battle for the Planet of the Apes", played by actor-director John Huston.

The Lawgiver is to the ape society in "Planet of the Apes" and "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" a figure much like Moses, Confucius or Mao Zedong — his writings and quotes form the basis of the apes' system of laws and customs, particularly with regard to humans, whom the Lawgiver declared "the devil's spawn", to be shunned and driven out, if not destroyed outright. Statues of the Lawgiver are common around Ape City; when the gorilla army sees a vision of such a statue bleeding, they panic, showing their regard for this icon.

While the Lawgiver's works were used and quoted daily by the apes, they weren't the only ape writings; secret scrolls told the details of the apes' rise to dominance, but were kept from the masses. Dr. Zaius, the Chief Defender of the Faith in the ape world some 1200 years after the Lawgiver, kept a copy of the Lawgiver's essential decrees in his coat pocket, but kept the secret scrolls under lock and key.

Through the course of the series, the chimpanzee Caesar becomes leader of the apes, presumably changing the timeline that led to the world abandoned by his parents, Zira and Cornelius, who travelled to Earth's past. By the time the Lawgiver appears in "Battle", the children he addresses (as he tells them about Caesar) are a mix of both humans and apes; the joint society Caesar ultimately promoted appeared to have worked, and instead of condemning humans, the Lawgiver accepts them as his students.

However, Screenwriter Paul Dehn stated that the tear on the statue of Caesar at the end of the film was to tell the audience that Caesar's efforts ultimately failed.

In other media

* In "Mystery Science Theater 3000", "Planet of the Apes"-inspired character Professor Bobo (Kevin Murphy) frequently calls Pearl Forrester (Mary Jo Pehl) "Lawgiver".


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