An old man, Farrow, is dozing when he hears a dog barking. Its young master, a chimpanzee Arno, runs up as the dog trees Farrow. The chimpanzee dismisses the dog's prey as a human. Suddenly a vast win strikes up and something crashes down nearby. Arno and Farrow go over separately to investigate, and find a spaceship in the middle of the field. The ape runs off to get help, and Farrow approaches the spaceship. He finds a glowing button and presses it, and a hatch opens it. Inside Farrow finds three men strapped into chairs. The old man discovers that one of them is dead, but the other two--Alan Virdon and Peter Burke--are alive but unconscious.
Arno arrives at the nearby village of Chaylo and goes into the prefect's hut.
Farrow pulls Pete and Alan out and carries them away. He sees the prefect, Veska, and his gorilla soldiers riding forward and runs into the forest just before they arrive. The old man then watches them as Veska stares at the spaceship in puzzlement, and then takes the gorillas inside. Arno insists to his father Veska, that he go in. They look around and find the third human, dead. Arno points out that there are two other seats, and Veska tells him to say nothing because the humans know their place. If they were to find out that other humans could build a flying machine then they'd think they were as good as apes. When Arno points out that the humans must be even better to design such a craft, Veska tells him to not even think it and orders the gorillas to bury the spaceship.
The old man takes Alan and Pete to his cave and gets them water.
Veska sends a gorilla messenger a note to pass on to Counselor Zaius in Central City, and then tells the remaining gorillas to search for the other two humans.
A delirious Alan mutters about an "emergency" and shouts a warning. Farrow goes out to gather some fruit and hides as the gorillas ride past.
Alan wakes up and wakes Pete up and confirms that they're both okay. They don't know where the third astronaut, Jonesy, is. Alan says that they were approaching Alpha Centauri when they ran into radiation interference, and he ordered Jonesy to initiate the automatic homing device. He figures that it worked since they landed. The two men hear horses approaching and Alan grabs a rock. Farrow comes in and says that he brought them something to eat, and introduces himself. They ask where they are, and Farrow has no idea what the name of the planet is. He explains that Jonesy is dead, and Pete points out that the fruit is alien and the "cave" looks like a bomb shelter a couple of hundred years ago. Alan asks Farrow to take them to their spaceship, but he warns that it wouldn't be safe. He offers to get clothe for them from Chaylo, where most of the humans live. Farrow says that they'll be safe from the apes and leaves.
At Chaylo, Veska says that the two astronauts are insane. Farrow is in the crowd and listens before walking away.
At the bomb shelter, Alan assures Pete that they'll get home but Pete doesn't believe him. Pete decides to go out and take a look, skeptical of Farrow's claim about apes. As they look around, two gorilla soldiers shoot at them and miss. The astronauts run and the gorillas ride after them but lose them in the brush. As they ride off, Alan and Pete stare at the apes in shock.
Later at Central City, the orangutan counselor Zaius works with his prospective assistant, a chimpanzee Galen. Galen points out that Zaius owes his father a favor. Meanwhile, a human brings in the message from the gorilla. Zaius reads it and says that it's not possible, and shows it to Galen. The older ape talks about his worst nightmare, and warns that destruction is not fantasy.
Farrow says that humans are nothing and always have been, and apes rule the planet. He warns that the apes will kill Pete and Alan if they find them, and would kill him if they knew he had a "storybook" that he found in the shelter. Farrow show them one book with pictures, and Alan that it's from 2503: 500 years after they left. They realize that they can't go home because they're on Earth.
Zaius calls in the military head, Urko, and shows him the letter. Galen doesn't believe that humans could build such a machine, and Urko dismisses him as a fool. Zaius tells Urko to capture the astronauts back and bring them back for questioning to determine their source. He then tells Galen that ten years go another such ship landed with humans. Those humans said that they were from the past, and the High Council covered it up. The astronauts were smarter than the apes' humans, and had feelings of independence and freedom. Galen finds the idea fascinating, but Zaius says that they would have contaminated their humans. Urko captured and killed them, and insists that they should kill the humans. Zaius says that they have to study them and learn how to deal with them and any others, and then they can be killed. Urko is less than thrilled but has no choice. Zaius tells Galen to go with Urko to make sure nothing happens to the astronauts.
Soon, Urko, Galen, and two men ride to Chaylo.
Alan and Pete discuss their situation, and figure that everyone they know is long dead. Alan points out that his wife and son are among the dead, and Pete says that when Farrow takes them to the ship, they can see where they are.
Urko and his men make camp for the night. Galen sits separately and Urko comes over. The chimpanzee says that he always thought humans were unimportant animals, and Urko tells him that they are.
He next morning, Farrow takes Pee and Alan toward the spaceship. Farrow has brought the book with him, and says that he's going with them because they're friends. A gorilla is guarding the spaceship, and Farrow runs over and offers to show the gorilla where the humans are. The soldier goes with him, and Pete and Alan enter the spaceship. The controls have been torn apart and Jonesy's body removed, and the chronometer shows that they're at least in the year 3085. As Alan finds a photo of his wife and child, a shot rings out. A mortally wounded Farrow returns to the ship, yelling to them to run. Urko and his men arrive, guns drawn.
The apes tie the astronauts up, and Urko slaps Pete when he objects to them abandoning the dying Farrow. When Urko prepares to beat them, Galen stops him and Urko orders his men to move out. Alan asks Galen to look after their friend, and the chimpanzee confirms that Farrow is dead. Once the gorillas leave with their prisoners, Galen finds Farrow's book and takes it with him.
That night, the group makes camp and Galen looks at the pictures of human technology. Meanwhile, Alan manages to work his ropes on a rock until they break. He starts to free Pete, but Galen comes over and points out that they could have been killed worrying about Farrow. The astronauts insist that Farrow was a friend and they couldn't abandon him. Galen asks if it's true that they're from another time, and shows them the book. Alan says that the pictures are true, and Pete says that the humans built advanced machinery. Galen wonders why they kept apes in cages, and Alan says that in the past apes were considered wild animals. The chimpanzee insists that it's all lies and apes have always ruled the world. He tells the gorilla guard to check the prisoners' ropes.
The next day, Urko returns to Central City and forces Zaius' human servant Ullman to give him access to a box of grenades. He then goes before the High Council and insists that the humans must be destroyed because their thoughts are enemies. A councilape asks if they believe that humans and apes are equals, and Alan says that all intelligent creatures should live and work as equals. Urko says that the humans have convicted themselves, and Zaius tells him that they will avoid destruction by questioning the humans and learning their weaknesses.
When Alan insists that they don't intend any destruction, Urko takes out the grenade and tosses it at a door, destroying it. Zaius says that the display proves that they should keep the humans alive to learn how they create such destruction and prevent it in future. The other council apes agree but Urko is far from satisfied.
The soldiers toss the astronauts in a cell, and Urko tells the guard to do what is expected of him after dark.
As Zaius examines one of the remaining grenades, Galen suggests that the world might be better if all intelligent creatures worked together as equals. Zaius refuses to even hear such heresy and walks off, and Galen starts to go. He first asks Ullman what it's like to be human, but then realizes that any answer he'd get would be meaningless to him.
Galen visits the astronauts and admits that he believes them, and Alan wonders where the grenade came from. He points out that the input record for their entire flight is recorded on a magnetic disk in their ship. If they can run it through computer and analyze what went wrong, all they have to do is reverse the process and go home. If the humans who built the grenade are still around, they might have the knowledge to build a computer and a spaceship. Alan asks Galen if he'd like to visit their time period, and offers to take him with them if he helps them escape. Galen refuses to commit reason, but then apologizes and says that he'd like to talk more about the book.
The guard delivers food and leaves, but deliberately leaves the door ajar when he goes.
As Galen returns to the compound, he sees the guard take up position, rifle ready.
Pete realizes that the door is open and the guard is gone. They figure that it's trap but it's still their best option. Galen shouts a warning and the astronauts duck for cover. The chimpanzee jumps the gorilla and the gun goes off again, accidentally killing him. As the astronauts run off, Urko and two more soldiers come out and see Galen holding the gun.
Later, Zaius visits the imprisoned Galen and Urko informs him of the charges against Galen. Galen says that Urko set the humans up, and Urko denies it. He found the book where Galen dropped it, When Zaius points out that possessing such a book is punishable by death, Galen asks him why truth is against the law. Zaius says that he can do nothing for him, give the book back to Galen, and leaves.
Outside, Alan grabs a human and forces him to take them to Zaius' house.
Zaius returns home and tells Ullman to go to bed. The orangutan enters his quarters and find Alan and Pete waiting. They ask where he got the grenades, and Zaius says that he took it from a human before killing him. Zaius doesn't know where the human came from, and says that human science and machines destroyed the world. The apes don't want them or their memory, and Pete realizes that man wiped himself out. Zaius says that the human was caught sneaking into the city and he had him killed just as he will have them killed as well as Galen.
Alan and Pete take Zaius to the prisoner and force him to knock on the door. When the guard answers, the astronauts knock him out when he comes out. Zaius runs off but Alan tackles him. They tie both apes up, and Galen says that Urko has the cell door key. Alan tells Galen to take cover, and then blasts the door open with the grenade. They run off as Urko and his soldiers arrive, and escape just in time.
A week later, the trio goes to the spaceship. As Alan works to remove the magnetic disc, Galen warns that Zaius and Urko will never stop looking for them. He walks off, angry, and Pete goes after him. Galen apologizes for his outburst and says that he had family and friends, and Pete assures him that he still has friends. He hears horses coming, and Alan removes the disc. The trio leaves just in time as Zaius, Urko, and the soldiers ride up. Zaius tells the gorillas to destroy the ship, and a minute later the astronaut hear the explosion. Galen admits that it's their world as well as the apes, and Alan picks a direction to start walking.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 20, 2016