Last night, on the Turner Classic Movie channel, I watched King Kong, the original 1933 version of King Kong. I watched it both for its entertainment value and also as homework for the Peter Jackson version of the movie, which we’ll (hopefully) be seeing this weekend or so.
What a hoot! Definitely worth a rental or, if you can catch it on TV. A few thoughts in no particular order:
- Like a lot of other stories of the early 2oth century (the most obvious example to me are both the book and film versions of Tarzan), the 1933 version of things is pretty racist and sexist. It’ll be interesting to see how Jackson handles stuff like that.
- The storyline is ridiculous of course, but if you haven’t seen it before, I am here to tell you that it is even more ridiculous than you might think. Basically, a nature film director gets a map under somewhat mysterious circumstances that shows the location of “Skull Island,” which is home to a group of “natives” who live on a narrow pennisula on a small part of this island. The part where the natives live is protected by a mysterious and enourmous wall that is so old, no one remembers where it came from. There are strange animals behind said wall– dinosaurs (okay, uh, I guess a land of the lost kind of thing, I can go with that) and, of course, one– and only one– giant ape. Hijinks ensue.
- The original film was basically a special effects flick too. Even if you haven’t actually seen the movie, surely you have seen some of the images of Kong on the Empire State Building and such, so I was of course expecting to see a fair amount of that sort of thing. But I was surprised just how much of the movie was even then about the effects. It’s no wonder that Jackson said this is the movie that inspired him to be a filmmaker.
- The original was about an hour and 45 minutes, and that includes a lot of King Kong fighting-type scenes; the Jackson movie is supposedly about 3 hours. Damned if I know what he’s done to nearly double the length of it.
More on the new version later….