An adventurous risk in the history of filmmaking, the motion picture ‘King Kong’ was produced in 1933, directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, whose vision of colossal carnivores fighting tooth and nail, crossed with a tragic love story, became a reality to the shock and awe of its original audience. The premise focuses on charismatic director Carl Denham, who plans a daring voyage to the enigma that is Skull Island in order to record footage of the rumoured beast that calls it home – KONG. However, these plans are torn asunder when it is revealed that Skull Island is inhabited by savage tribesmen, deadly reptiles and ferocious dinosaurs, all of which mean to do harm to the innocent trespassers of their land, except for the mighty Kong.
Some of the more contemporary controversies of King Kong are emphasised in the form of sexism and racism, which heavily influence the first half. “Viewers will shift uneasily in their seats during the stereotyping of the islanders in a scene where a bride is sacrificed to Kong.” (Ebert, 2002) However, these offensive scenes were merely a reflection of the general consensus regarding race in the 1930’s, which can also be said for the incredibly misogynistic crew members, in a scene which ludicrously culminates with a kiss between the boorish Jack Driscoll and leading lady Ann Darrow.
The ‘special effects’ used in the film have a refreshing charm which are not easily matched by typical modern CGI. “When Kong battles the large flesh-eating dinosaur in his first big battle scene, there is a moment when he forces its jaws apart, and the bones crack, and blood drips from the gaping throat, and something immediate happens that is hard to duplicate on any computer.” (Ebert, 2002) With the complex process of reflecting projections into the camera in order to make characters appear to be standing in a tropical paradise, it is hard for contemporary audiences to imagine, with the amount of ease it takes to use green-screening in this cinematic age, just how much artistic detail has been added to every frame. It has been made clear by endless modern parodies and references, including one classic episode of The Simpsons entitled King Homer, that King Kong has indeed stood the test of time.
(Wallace & Cooper, 1933) Fig 2 - http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sal5kLPCdsc/TVWKVwXOPjI/AAAAAAAABGc/V4U3Lkq7WSw/s1600/King%2B3%2BNatives.jpg
(Groening, 1992) Fig 3 - http://www.thatsswell.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/king-homer.jpg
(Ebert, 2002) - http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-king-kong-1933