Tuesday, 22 November 2011

King Kong Review

Fig. 1 King Kong poster
The iconic, yet un-explanatory legend of an overgrown ape known as King Kong, is a film directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack. The story of Kong, in the film, is one that isn't explored nor can it be, for it seems that not even Schoedsack knew where this idea came from. Known for it's scenery on the mysterious island and iconic scene of the Empire State Building, King Kong is good to look at, with the exception of Kong himself, but lacks any motivation for the story.

Fig. 2 King Kong bound
Starting on a high, the tropical island's scenery is a focus point for the creativity of the film. The stop motion battle sequence of Kong and the dinosaur is a spectacle, regardless of the film's age, though it may seem more comedic now than when it first came out. The basis of the film lies entirely upon a puppet, which may seem a hefty task, but has warranted the film a remake. As John A. Nesbit said, "While difficult to conceive that a small "puppet" in the gigantic title role could carry the movie, that's what O'Brien achieves" (Nesbit, 2005). The reference to O'Brien is to the special effects designer, Willis O'Brien. 

On a lower note, the story takes the backseat when introduced to the islands inhabitants. Apparently the word 'stealth' didn't exist in 1933, with the boarding party standing in the open oblivious to the consequences with the additional 'they've seen us' comment from the director who set up his tripod camera. And as to when Kong is bound on stage with an audience of people observing, you would expect the 'eighth wonder of the world' to have some sort of police presence, unless they thought a gigantic ape that had previously killed a dinosaur, killed most of the crew of the ship and fought off a raptor, posed no threat.

Fig. 3 King Kong fighting jets
O'Brien does well to bring Kong to life by giving him a child like mannerism, by "playing with the corpses of defeated enemies as if wondering where the life has gone, and chewing furiously on any passing human who doesn't meet his standards of beauty." (Newman, 2005) Excluding the bizarre facial expressions of Kong in the close-ups, in which he tends to smile a lot, Kong's life like motions make this film. It's evident that this, is also the influence for Speilberg's Jurassic Park

King Kong is "purely an exhibition of studio and camera technology-- and it isn't much more than that" (Bigelow, 1933). Willis O'Brien has captured the motion and emotion of Kong, standing as the highlight of the film, with the build up to Kong's appearance serving it's purpose well.

Illustration list
Figure 1. Ernest B. Schoedsack (1933) King Kong poster. At: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f3/Kingkongposter.jpg/220px-Kingkongposter.jpg
Figure 2. Ernest B. Schoedsack (1933) King Kong bound. At: http://chosis.coldfusionvideo.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/king-kong-33_12.jpg
Figure 3. Ernest B. Schoedsack (1933) King Kong fighting jets. At: http://theronneel.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Get-em-Kong3.jpg

Bibliography list
John A. Nesbit (2005) Old School Reviews. At: http://oldschoolreviews.com/rev_30/king_kong_1933.htm
Kim Newman (2005) Empire. At: http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?DVDID=116908
Joe Bigelow (2007) Variety. At: http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117792322?refcatid=31

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