August 27, 2012

King Kong (1933)

"A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal giant gorilla who takes a shine to their female blonde star."

Although "King Kong" hardly counts as a horror movie and is more of an adventure story, it was groundbreaking at the time, and is still one of the greatest monster movies ever made. I've already reviewed it on one of my other blogs (which I have now abandoned), so I'm just going to repeat the bulk of that post again with a few changes.

I have always enjoyed this version of "King Kong" more than any of the lacklustre sequels, clones, or modern remakes. I'm not sure what it is about the stop-motion animation or the improbability of any of it which appeals to me so much, but maybe it's because I first saw it on television when I was a child. It brings back cosy memories of random things like making toast in front of an open fire while the wind whistled outside, cuddling my first cat, collecting comics, and looking forward to a future which turned out to be not so great.

Even without the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, I still appreciate everything which the then uncredited directors did with "King Kong" as they made a timeless story which has enthralled generations ever since in whatever format they've watched it on.

As an adult with the luxury of DVD, I've noticed a few things which a lot of people might not pick up on, although not the alleged "nipple shot" of Fay Wray as she gets out of the water at one point. I was stupid enough to fall for that hoax and spent some time fast-forwarding, rewinding and freeze-framing the DVD, but all I got was a pixellated blur at best. To be honest, I don't really need to see Fay Wray's nipple to enjoy the movie, especially as I most certainly saw Jessica Lange's in the 1976 remake.

No, what I noticed most was how incredibly flawless Fay Wray looked in every scene. This really was the time of beautiful film stars, not ones covered up with so many layers of make-up that they don't even look real anymore.

Of course, the other outstanding thing from the movie was Kong himself. I have very little knowledge of exactly how much work went into his scenes but, without even looking it up, I could tell that it was a lot. Yes, I know that's kind of a redundant sentence, but I would estimate that many thousands of hours were put into animating Kong using one tiny movement at a time.

"Jurassic Park" may have had more bells and whistles, not to mention a plot which borrowed heavily from "King Kong", but nothing is more amazing than seeing a giant ape fighting dinosaurs from back in the 1930s. Even watching "Metropolis" again fairly recently, although obviously not quite the same thing, really highlighted the artistic skills which have been lost in this age of computer generated images.

I'm going to wrap this post up with the biggest message that I got from the whole thing. Basically, back in the '30s, Americans must have thought it was their God-given right to invade other cultures and steal their monkeys. You would have thought that a film like this would have at least given them a good warning to stop, but alas, it still goes on and the whole country has more entitlement issues than ever before. Even in the midst of now being a third-world country itself and suffering from the worst economic crisis since the time "King Kong" was made, still nobody seems to have learned their lesson. Just replace giant monkeys with oil and you've got a great political allegory here.

But I've digressed. I'm all about the movies not politics even though there are socio-political implications to so many films which we all take for granted.

Having said that, isn't it strange that Kong climbs the Empire State Building with his beloved or that the Twin Towers replaced that symbol of capitalism in the 1976 remake? Obviously, it was intentional in both cases.

I'm giving "King Kong" a huge 9 out of 10 for being as enjoyable today as it was when it was made. I wish I could say the same for Peter Jackson's remake. but that one is best forgotten about.

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