10 Best Primate Movies

04 May 2018
Popular primates found in movies.

Monkeys, gorillas, mandrills: the movies feature all these primates and many more. Of course, primates include humans, but since we’re in virtually every movie out there, we decided to focus on the bonobos, lemurs, and chimpanzees that populate pop culture instead, especially since your Sunday night movie this weekend, War for the Planet of the Apes, is full of them.

  1. Aladdin

Mischievous monkey Abu was a definite scene-stealer in this ‘90s classic from Disney. From hair-raising magic carpet rides to an elephantine transformation, Abu stuck with Aladdin through thick and thin.

  1. Gorillas in the Mist

A stirring tale that’s sure to tug at your heartstrings, this remarkable movie follows legendary real-life primatologist Dian Fossey in her struggle to save gorillas in Rwanda.

  1. The Jungle Book

In Disney’s 1967 adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Mowgli runs into a spot of bother when he is kidnapped by a troupe of monkeys. They take him to their leader, King Louie the orangutan, a character who does not appear in the book – that’s because orangutans are not native to India, where the story is set. This anomaly was rectified in 2016’s live-action adaptation when King Louie was depicted as a gigantopithecus. Learn more about the Disney versions of this story here.

  1. King Kong

The ape of all apes! This magnificent beast first appeared on screen in 1933. Since then he has been variously reincarnated on screen, with his most recent depiction released in 2017, in Kong: Skull Island. Watch the LallaLand interview with the movie’s cast here and learn more about the different versions of Kong here.

  1. The Lion King

One of the most memorable characters in this Shakespearean Disney classic is the mandrill Rafiki, voiced by Robert Guillaume. A live-action version is slated for release next year. Sadly, Guillaume passed away last year, but filling his vocal shoes is none other than South African acting legend John Kani. Watch him talk about the role here.

  1. Madagascar

Lemurs are native to Madagascar, unlike Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria, who find themselves stranded on this beautiful island. During their attempts to get back to Central Park Zoo in New York, they meet the native wildlife, most memorably the ring-tailed lemur King Julien. Our favourite, however, is the latter’s minion Mort, the mouse lemur.

  1. Mighty Joe Young

Featuring another ape and another primatologist is this early Charlize Theron flick, which sees her raising a massive gorilla after both their mothers are killed by poachers.

  1. Planet of the Apes

This franchise dates all the way back to 1963 (you can read about it here). But from the mind-blowing twist of the first film to the dubious Tim Burton remake to the much-lauded reboot series starring Andy Serkis, the franchise has endured. Will War for the Planet of the Apes be the last in line? We don’t know, but we certainly hope not. Whatever its fate, make sure you watch the latest instalment this Sunday at 20:05 on M-Net.

  1. Rampage

Another primatologist comes in the form of Dwayne Johnson in this creature-filled feature starring a gargantuan silver gorilla. The movie’s on circuit right now, and LallaLand headed to London recently to interview the cast. Check it out here.

  1. Tarzan

We couldn’t end our list without the man raised by apes, Tarzan aka John Clayton aka Viscount Greystoke. Like Planet of the Apes, it started with a book and has a long list of adaptations to its name. From the silent films of the early twentieth century to the TV shows to last year’s The Legend of Tarzan, there’s an endless array and we think it’s safe to say, Tarzan is here to stay.

Join the apes for an uprising in War for the Planet of the Apes, your #SundayNightMovie on 6 May at 20:05 on M-Net channel 101.