There is a great deal to like about the recently-released Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which defied the usual trend of sequels by being every bit the equal of its predecessor Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
One of the aspects of the movie that most appealed to me was the lengths that the producers went to to develop a fully-fleshed vision of what ape society might look like.
From the functional yet sometimes beautiful nature of their wooden architecture to the education system put in place by Maurice to teach up-and-coming generations, and the little touches like the leaf crown worn by Caesar’s much-loved mate Cornelia (see below), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes realised a breathtakingly well-thought out vision of the directions ape civilisations might take.
One of the most beautiful aspects of this was the face paint that adorned their faces, lending them a savage, almost tribal look that nonetheless spoke of a need to decorate and go beyond mere functionality.
The decorative aspects were developed by the Aaron Sims Company which recently released their concept art for the film, which I accessed via both io9 and Concept Art World (where you can see the full range of this brilliantly-realised artwork), which had the following description of how the art was conceived:
“ASC worked closely with Weta on both films to design all of the main and ancillary ape characters from the ground up. In the Rise of the Planet of the Apes, they sculpted a bust for Caesar to ensure a hyper-realistic feel. In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, ASC worked on aging the apes and creating the apes’ ceremonial look, which includes face paint and other ornamentation taken from nature.”
It’s impressive stuff and underscores just how much work goes into intelligently thought-through, well-developed films like this one.