Believe it or not, it’s been 50 years since Charlton Heston damned us all to hell on that beach from the original Planet of the Apes movie. And to celebrate the semicentennial release of that franchise-spawning film, Hachette Books, in partnership with 20th Century Fox, is publishing Planet of the Apes: Caesar's Story, an illustrated life story of the apes’ fearless leader, as told by his best friend, Maurice.
Following the events of the 2017 feature film, War for the Planet of the Apes, Maurice decides to recount and chronicle Caesar's story so that his son, Cornelius, can know who his father was. Caesar's Story recounts the life of the ape leader from his earliest days under the care of scientist Will Rodman, as well his life with the ape colony in Muir Woods after the outbreak of the Simian Flu and his ultimate battle with and imprisonment by the vicious and unstable Colonel.
With illustrations by Zachary Baldus, Caesar's Story also chronicles what happens between the events of Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, as well as the events between Dawn and War for the Planet of the Apes, revealing new details from the Planet of the Apes universe.
The book includes Maurice's personal thoughts and reflections of his lifetime spent alongside Caesar and contributions from other apes who knew him.
Planet of the Apes: Caesar's Story, by Maurice (with Greg Keyes — yeah, he helped), will be available on Oct. 23. You can preorder your copy here. In the meantime, check out an excerpt, with artwork, below.
From Planet of the Apes: Caesar's Story by Maurice, with Greg Keyes, published by Hachette. Copyright © 2018 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
The Battle of the Orange Bridge
Caesar knew nothing of war at that time. He had never been in one. None of us had. But Caesar saw every obstacle as a problem to be solved. If there were humans ahead, waiting for us, that was a problem that needed solving.
We would not do so by charging blindly at the bus, which was clearly what the humans wanted us to do.
The Orange Bridge was suspended by thick metal vines called cables. Caesar sent chimpanzees up them, climbing high into the obscuring fog. He sent orangutans beneath the bridge, to swing on the girders below; he tasked me to lead them. Some chimps went with us as well, scampering on the tops of the metal beams.
The air did not swarm with flying machines. There was only one, but it was deadly enough. As we prepared to fight our way through to the forest, it arrived. It began shooting at the apes on the cables above. I saw the first of us fall, tumbling past me, vanishing into the gray waters below.
Caesar led some chimps and the gorillas straight ahead on the bridge, just as the humans expected, and soon the humans on horseback arrived, clubbing apes from their higher vantage. Rather than be driven, Caesar and Buck turned some apes around to fight them.
The gorillas reached the bus. But instead of going over it or around it, they did as Caesar told them. They pushed it over and then forward, using it as a shield against the humans who waited beyond it, with their guns.
And when it was close enough, pushed all the way to the human position, Caesar led us into battle, mounted on a horse he had taken from the humans. As he and those on the bridge charged, those of us below it came up, and those above came down.
The humans, crouched behind many of their cars for shelter, expecting us to come from only one direction, were surrounded. We overwhelmed them in moments, and they fled.
But then the flying machine rose up as we orangs had, from beneath the bridge, and the big gun on it started spitting the death we now know so well. You cannot see the bullets coming; it is as if they are invisible.
Imagine dying without knowing what is killing you. We knew to run, to hide from the unseen murder in the air itself. But that was not enough.
The machine moved closer. Caesar found a weighted chain in one of the cars. He threw it, knocking the men with the big gun from the machine. But another man with a smaller gun kept shooting. And he was shooting at Caesar.
Buck did not kill a hundred men. In fact, he spared one at Caesar’s command earlier in the battle. He hurled one over the side of the bridge. That human probably died.
What Buck did do was push Caesar aside, shielding him with his body. Then he sprang through the air toward the helicopter. Toward the gun. It was a mighty leap.
Bullets hit him, but they did not stop him.
Buck brought the machine down. The man with the gun died. So did the man making the machine fly. Buck killed three men.
But the man with the gun killed Buck. Caesar was with him as he took his last breath.
There was another human in the helicopter who was still alive. Jacobs, the man from Gen-Sys. The human Koba hated above all others, the one who supervised his torture. He remained in the flying machine as it teetered on the edge of the bridge. I watched Caesar rise from beside Buck’s body and walk over to the machine. The man begged for his help, but Caesar turned away.
But he didn’t just turn away. He nodded at Koba.
He gave Koba permission.
And Koba pushed the helicopter and the man off the bridge.
Caesar told us not to kill humans if we could help it. But for this man he made an exception. I can understand his decision, and it helped seal Koba’s loyalty to him. But that loyalty was tainted from the start. Koba thought he and Caesar were more alike than they really were.
With the defeat of the flying machine, the way to the woods was clear, and Caesar led us there.
As soon as we entered those trees, it seemed as if we had entered a different world. A place far from men. A place for apes. Not the Forest of Fruit, but good enough.