Saturday, 12 October 2013

Film Review: King Kong

King Kong (1933) 100/4min

(Figure 1: Opening Title)

One of the very first stop-motion pictures of its kind; King Kong, directed in 1933 by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedesk, is an American black and white fantasy monster/adventure film situated on the mysterious 'Skull Island' along with its African natives protected by a huge ancient wall. From arriving on the island, the audience discovers the highly amusing antics of the film crew when attempting to rescue their beloved 'Anne', the highly typical 'Damsel in distress' from the frightful beast known as 'Kong'.

(Figure 2: In-Film Shot of the Natives)

From today's society with men and women's equal rights and the many hero's and heroines, this film does impose a clichĂ© to what was perceived back in the 1930's. From the quote; ''Modern viewers will shift uneasily in their seats during the stereotyping of the islanders in a scene where a bride is to be sacrificed to Kong...'' (Ebert, 2002) can be received as unacceptable racial discrimination. Even decades after 'The Thirteenth Amendment' of the US Constitution officially abolishing slavery in 1865, the perception of black people had not varied. The natives of 'Skull Island', seen wearing straw skirts, body paint, bones through their noses and living in mud built villages are very primitive; yet this can put an emphasis to the importance of an 'Undisturbed Island' forgotten in time; which to some viewers can add to the authenticity to a 50 feet tall Gorilla.

(Figure 3: In-Film Shot)

Even when there is no genuine plants within a scene the audience can still depict how far the Jungle must continue into the background. As seen in Figure 2, the artwork shows great depth with foreground, mid-ground and background tones all shown by lighting and atmosphere. What is also realistic about this interpretation of vast undergrowth is its artistic approach; As though no man has ever set foot beyond the gates and has never seen such untouched habitat of these creatures.

Throughout the film, Kong is seen continuously seeking isolation; however the adventurers never quite seem to be leaving him alone. Even after being captured and taken to New York City, he still seeks the company of Anne and his reclusive ways; which does imply his passive behavior despite his huge size and capability.

(Figure 4 & 5: Left, 1933 Poster - Right, 2005 Poster)

Comparing the 1933 and 2005 story-lines, both films have a difference in psychological emotion, (Also seen from the Poster art above). After watching the 1933 original, the viewer is left feeling ''sorry'' for Anne after enduring a life-threatening, frightful event. However from the 2005 re-make directed by Peter Jackson leaves the audience feeling a sense of remorse for Kong and his love for Anne that eventually leads to his undoing. As this quote dictates; ''Arguably the monster movie of all time, this abiding take on Beauty and the Beast has a mythic power that belies its years.'' (Collins, Radio Times 2013) is certainly the beginning of all the fantasy classic 'Beauty and the Beast' novels we see today. 

Overall, the grand farther of all modern monster horror films is certainly worth watching. From the quote; ''The throbbing heart of the film lies in the creation of the semi-human simian himself, an immortal tribute to the Hollywood dream factory's ability to fashion a symbol that can express all the contradictory erotic, ecstatic, destructive, pathetic and cathartic buried impulses of 'civilised' man.'' (Hammon, Time Out 2006) is very suited to this rather modern twist of such forbidden love; and so the emotion from Kong lives on even after being captured, he will continue throughout films history forever known as 'The Eighth Wonder of the World'.


Ebert, R. 2002 Review - Accessed 12/10/2013

Collins, A. 2013 Radio Times Review - Accessed 12/10/2013

Hammond, W. Time Out 2006 Review - Accessed 12/10/2013

Illustration List:

King Kong 1933 Opening Title - Accessed 12/10/2013

King Kong 1933 In-Film Shot NativesAccessed 12/10/2013

King Kong 1933 In-Film Shot - Accessed 12/10/2013

1993 King Kong Poster - Accessed 12/10/2013

2005 King Kong PosterAccessed 12/10/2013

1 comment:

  1. Another good review Heidi- well done!

    So close with the referencing now - you just need to re-jig your bibliography a bit. The authors are listed in alphabetical order, so you would have Collins, then Ebert and then Hammond. The date goes immediately after the name, in brackets. You then have the title of the piece, if there is one, followed by the web address. Finally you have (Accessed on...)
    Also, within the text, you don't need where the quote came from, just the surname and the date.