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War For The Planet Of The Apes Director Talks Film's Influences

The place where director Matt Reeves found inspiration for War for the Planet of the Apes may surprise you.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Reeves dished on the films that shaped the creation of his upcoming Apes movie. Though Reeves has listed flicks like Apocalypse Now, The Thin Red Line, and Platoon as sources, he revealed that Biblical epics were amongst the biggest and most important influences for War for the Planet of the Apes.

Reeves and screenwriter Matt Bomback sat down to watch the full Apes franchise, then followed the collection up with movies like The Great Escape and Ben-Hur.

"We watched The Great Escape. We watched Biblical epics, because I really felt like this movie had to have a Biblical aspect to it. We watched Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments," Reeves explained.

The director stated that he sees the ape leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) through a religious lens, the same one through which audiences will view War for the Planet of the Apes. "The movie is totally about his mythic ascension," Reeves said. "The battle for his soul that cements his position as the key figure in early ape history. You can imagine the story of him would inspire religions."

The film's short synopsis seems to back Reeves' religious and mythic references: "After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind."

While religion-based pics like The Ten Commandments and blockbuster war films like Apocalypse Now may seem a surprising pair of main influences, Reeves clarified that the inspiration he and Bomback drew from them wasn't a mix-and-match mess.

"We didn't go, like, 'Let's take a little bit of this, a little bit of that.' When you surround yourself with something that feels emotionally right, there are connections that make sense to you that somebody else might not see...[the films] informed the vibe we felt about this thing," said Reeves.

And 20th Century Fox is partially to thank for allowing Reeves and Bomback ample room to explore such inspirations. "They actually gave us time," Reeves said. "Mark [Bomback] and I began by doing the thing everybody thinks writers do, but they don't, because there's never time. We talked about our lives. We talked about history stories. And then we watched a lot of movies."

In conjunction with the interview, Entertainment Weekly also unveiled an exclusive new look at War for the Planet of the Apes, which features Woody Harrelson standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a giant gorilla. Take a look below:

War for the Planet of the Apes is due in theaters on July 14. In the meantime, check out the other films we can't wait to see this summer.