Wednesday, 2 November 2011

King Kong (1933) Review

King Kong is an action, adventure, horror film made in 1933 and directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper. The film was famous at that time for it’s “out of this world approach" as well as the controversy of how the film reflects a particular view of race and how Africa is depicted from a western view. Because of the film’s success, a remake was made in 2005 and closely follows the 1933 version, only with updated visual designs and the appearance of King Kong.

King Kong film poster
The film tells the story of a return expedition trip of explorers with a beautiful actress exploring the remote Skull Island captures a giant ape and brings him back to New York as part of an exhibition show. All hell breaks loose when the ape’s love for the actress causes him to break out resulting in its death.

The film was set in a jungle-like tribal area where a native tribe chooses a female from the group and becomes Kong’s bride as part of a ritual. The tribe, dressed in bright colours with brightly painted faces in the ferocious style of Kong and some dressed in gorilla fur to represent the gorillas of Kong. Though, as the film moves on, we see that in the land where Kong inhabits in, other prehistoric creatures live there as well, such as the stegosaurus and the T-rex which ends up fighting over Ann as its next meal.
 the animatronic King Kong with the not so scary smile
Kong, was made by using stop motion was used to create the effect of “larger than life” adding the large foot print on the ground.  Created by Willis O'Brien, the creature didn’t look scary or threatening but when it came to close up shots of its face, using animatronics the puppet just merely smiles.  “The stop motion animation was ground breaking but the story is pap. The Tyrannosaurus would have bitten Kong to death in seconds flat. If Kong was real and living in a land inhabited by dinosaurs, he would not be king of the beasts, he would be at the bottom of the food chain.” (Freeman, 2010). However, Ann Darrow became famously in the film as the “Scream Queen” due to her ability of just screaming in near death experiences and her being held by the ape, “It often seems as though Ann Redman, who goes through more terror than any of the other characters in the film, would faint, but she always appears to be able to scream. Her body is like a doll in the claw of the gigantic beast.” (Mordaunt, 1933)

stop motion t-rex and King Kong
 The film also references “The Beauty and the Beast” quite often, due to the similar ways of Kong’s feelings towards Ann and how she usually becomes the damsel in distress. Even at the end of the film, Carl says, “It wasn’t the airplanes, It was Beauty killed the Beast…” a hint of how much the ape loved Ann that it even died “protecting” her whilst fighting at the top of the Empire State building, the highest building in NYC to prove his strength and power. “In the finale, King Kong delivers an image of supreme surrealism (a giant gorilla atop a skyscraper, buzzed by warplanes, clutching a blonde) that may be the greatest single image contributed by the movies to popular culture.” (Newman, 2006)

Kong on top of the Empire State Building


List of Illustrations:

Schoedsack, E.B and Cooper, M.C (1933) King Kong film poster (online):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Kong_(1933_film) – (accessed on 1/11/11)


Honeybone, N (2010) the animatronic King Kong with the not so scary smile (online):
http://horrornews.net/5051/film-review-king-kong-1933/king-kong-1933-photo-5/ – (accessed on 1/11/11)


Schoedsack, E.B and Cooper, M.C (1933) stop motion t-rex and King Kong (online):
http://kingkong.wikia.com/wiki/King_Kong_(1933_film) – (accessed on 1/11/11)

Schoedsack, E.B and Cooper, M.C (1933) Kong on top of the Empire State Building (online):


Bibliograpy:
Mordaunt, H (1933) Movie Review: King Kong (1933) (online):
http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9F03E3DC173BEF3ABC4B53DFB5668388629EDE&partner=Rotten Tomatoes – (accessed on 1/11/11)

Freeman, R (2010) King Kong (1933) (online):


Newman, K (2006) EMPIRE ESSAY: King Kong (online):

1 comment :

  1. Hey Joe,

    Few things here...

    “out of this world"

    add "approach" at the end and finish the speech mark

    "and brought him"

    change to "and brings him"

    "Kong, made by"

    add a "was" next to "made"

    "The film also reference"

    small thing add an "s" to reference

    Other then that very nice Joe, a few decent quotes here too...

    :) GJ

    ReplyDelete