Fig 1. King Kong poster
King Kong I directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper in 1933 is one of the most iconic movies to come from Hollywood. The film is about Carl Denham who wants to shoot his new movie on a tropical island that is very mysterious. He finds his new leading lady Ann Darrow and sets off to the mysterious island ‘Skull Island’ and they find that the island inhabits many beasts, monster and the giant gorilla King Kong.
This film is set in the unknown and very much holds what the western civilisation thought of Africa with exotic animals and unfamiliar landscapes. Not only did Kong inhabit the island but also prehistoric creatures such as the Stegosaurus and the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Showing what people of the time imagined unknown lands would hold. The tribe are depicted as a simple and aggressive, dressed in flamboyant garments and bright face paints. This was a very stereotypical view of black tribes around in Africa in the 30’s.
The creature Kong as we first see him is very beastly and aggressive. In the 30’s they had limited technology and used stop frame animation to created Kong. They still manage to get across a certain presence that Kong holds, with his larger than life personality. “King Kong was innovative in the motion picture industry, and despite the dated nature of the stop-motion animation used in King Kong, it still looks terrific”(Thompson 2009) For the close ups of Kong they used an animatronic mask, to the modern viewer looks very amusing and it hard not to laugh. However this does show the very human aspect of King Kong, that he is not all monstrous. His grin does show a kind of mischievous behaviour which Peter Jackson showed very well in the 2005 remake of the film as he had a lot of CGI technology at his disposal. Kong is seen in the eyes of the people as a threat and a monster this is true however Kong is only trying to protect Ann. And doing everything he can to protect her. Maybe of John Driscoll (Bruce Cabot, who is soon to be Ann’s husband) as Kong has seen the destruction humans are capable of. “But "King Kong" is more than a technical achievement. It is also a curiously touching fable in which the beast is seen, not as a monster of destruction, but as a creature that in its own way wants to do the right thing”. (Ebert 2003)
Fig 2. King Kong animatronic mask
While the company of sailors set off into the jungle to rescue Ann Darrow, the camera pans out into various wide shots on the jungle. When they walk past the dead Stegosaurus they still manage to create a depth to scene, trying to create the dense atmosphere of the jungle they are in. The viewer really does seem to be engaged in the story a lot more than other movies around the same time. “it truly does take us to another place and convinces us on some level that it’s real” (Ewing 2010).
There are so many iconic scenes in this film; you don’t need to watch a King Kong film to know it climbed to the top of the empire state building, and the fight with the T-Rex which in the remake which influences even more how brutal Kong can be.
Fig 3. King Kong fighting a T-Rex
Ernest, B & Merian, C. (1933) Figure 1. King Kong Poster http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kingkongposter.jpg (Online) (Accessed on 06/11/11)
Ernest, B & Merian, C. (1933) Figure 2. King Kong animatronic mask http://horrornews.net/5051/film-review-king-kong-1933/king-kong-1933-photo-5/ (Online) (Accessed on 06/11/11)
Ernest, B & Merian, C. (1933) Figure 3. King Kong fighting a T-Rex http://kingkong.wikia.com/wiki/King_Kong_(1933_film) (Online) (Accessed on 06/11/11)
Bill Thompson (2009), (online) http://billsmovieemporium.wordpress.com/2009/01/22/review-king-kong-1933/ (Accessed on 06/11/11)
Roder Ebert (2003), (online) http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20020203/REVIEWS08/202030301/1023 (Accessed on 06/11/11)
James Ewing (2010), (online) http://cinemasights.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/king-kong-1933/ (Accessed on 06/11/11)