Not Without a Fight
But remnants of humanity remain. One such remnant—led by a cold, brutal zealot simply called the Colonel (played by Woody Harrelson)—has taken on explicitly religious trappings. His soldiers often bear the Greek symbols of Alpha and Omega, an obvious reference to Revelation 22:13:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end,” Jesus says there. The Colonel’s troops chant that they are “the beginning and the end,” suggesting that they have no intention of relinquishing their God-given right to earthly primacy to a bunch of upstart apes. The Colonel calls Caesar’s colony of primates an “unholy kingdom,” and he refers to their war against the apes as a “holy war.” And just in case anyone missed the evidence that the Colonel sees this war as a religious crusade, the Colonel wears a cross around his neck and hangs another in his office.
But the movie suggests that the Colonel’s cause is a false one, and he’s actually acting in a way counter to what God would want.
We see that in the juxtaposition of how Caesar and the Colonel react when given a choice between mercy and blood.
When a handful of the Colonel’s soldiers fall into Caesar’s clutches at the beginning of the movie, Caesar sends them home—to prove to the Colonel that he and his kind are “not animals.” Shortly thereafter, the Colonel and his men invade the colony and slaughter many apes, including Caesar’s wife and son.
Caesar seeks revenge on the Colonel—a suggestion that he’s falling into the same unhealthy cycle of hate that claimed the Colonel and so many others (both ape and man). But when he comes across a mute, human child, he and his small band of apes treat her gently—to the point where she becomes almost like family. Meanwhile, we learn that when the Colonel’s own son became mute himself, the Colonel killed the boy.
Our roles have been reversed: The apes show far more humanity than the humans do, while the humans we meet are more animalistic. If it was a contest with God as the judge and earth as a prize, who would He say deserved to rule the planet more?