In the late-1960s/1970s Charlton Heston became the poster child of post-apocalyptic films. He starred in the 1971 Omega Man and the 1973 Soylent Green. Before that however, he was featured in Planet of the Apes in 1968.
The film was written by Michael Wilson and Rod Sterling of the TV series The Twilight Zone. It featured Charlton Heston as Taylor an astronaut who returned to Earth 2,000 years after he left to find it inhabited by intelligent apes who have their own society where humans, who can’t speak, are their slaves. He comes across two ape scientists Zira played by Kim Hunter and Cornelius played by Roddy McDowall who at first take an interest in him for research purposes and then befriend him.
The movie is a great piece of science fiction and satire. First, the cinematography is amazing. The opening scene when the spaceship crashes gives a great panoramic view of the setting. The ending with the Statue of Liberty is one of the most memorable ones you’ll see in a movie. The first site of the apes, which comes in the form of gorillas hunting down humans for a new batch of slaves is pretty amazing. The ape society Taylor finds is a commentary upon our own. The orangutans are the ruling class. The chimps are the intellectual middle class. The gorillas are militaristic soldiers. The humans are the working class/slaves. The point being every society stratifies into different classes and has a division of labor. The ending is also a note that civilization doesn't always lead to progress but can end up destroying itself.
The fact that the movie led to several sequels, a TV show, and then was remade not once, but twice in recent years shows the enduring legacy of the original release.