King Kong Movie Review Essay Sample
As we know, the love story of Beauty and the Beast, or rather a story of love for the beautiful monster has more than seventy years. Back in the twenties of the last century, the film was shot on Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle, the story of a scientific expedition to a certain plateau where they found a variety of preserved prehistoric animals. It is unlikely that modern audiences have never heard of the phrase – King Kong. It has become a household name and is familiar even to infants. Without King Kong, there would not be the genre of “Monster Movie” (monster movie). Without it, there would not be Lord of the Rings because it is the King Kong that in 1933 impressed Peter Jackson so much that he wanted to become a director.
One might expect that by today’s standards the old King Kong would seem naive and ridiculous. However, this film is not a completely wasted former “margin of safety”. Directing workshop, advanced “special effects”, a fascinating plot, neat camera work, and a very good performance of actors are five “gold” terms of success of any film, even if it was shot a century ago.
King Kong Movie – Original vs. Remake
The original King Kong came out in 1933 and brought great financial profit to its producers. The plot of the film is simple. Fay Wray is hired by Robert Armstrong as a star in a film that he is making. The film should be shot on a mysterious island. The place is the home of the angry creature – Kong who kidnaps Wray. Later, King Kong is captured and taken to New York to be the part of the Broadway show. This allows King Kong to escape. Then, the evens are transferred to the Empire State Building.
The human characters are one-dimensional. For example, Denham does not learn any lessons in the end of the film. In the center of the film, there is Kong and a tragic fable of Beauty and the Beast. Kong has strong impulse to protect and save Ann from predators. His tenderness is emphasized in the film. In King Kong, the true monsters are the fearful villagers, but not the rampaging creature. Of course, Kong sometimes is brutal and prone to vengeance. He opens his vulnerable heart only to have it broken and chooses a fate that means his death.
The death of Kong is a loss that must occur and that the viewer should survive. To understand this, we must remember that at this period of history the environmental movement, which is so popular nowadays, did not exist. That is why, no one is worried about the environment and a strange creature. Other feature of the film is a revolutionary approach to musical arrangement as music by Max Steiner always accompanies and emotionally colors onscreen action, which in those days was not yet a common practice (e.g. in Dracula in 1931 music was only in the start and end credits).
“It was Beauty killed The Beast…” that is the last line in the original film and its meaning has not lost any of its power. It means simply that Kong is so infatuated with Ann that he, protecting her from harm, is going on a rampage that results in his death. That line, I think, is well-revealed in the original movie. In 1976, the new redesigned version was released. The difference between them is seen from the first look at the titles.
Although in both films the viewer sympathizes with Kong and what happens to him, in the first version the audience does not feel guilt for the tragedy of Kong’s death, while when watching a remake there is blame attached to the death. There are a few “modernizing” changes, but the basic frame is left intact. Kong is the most thoroughly explored character in the film.
The main female character of the first King Kong is totally confused and the viewer has such a feeling that she is on the edge of a precipice called “life”, not knowing what to do – jump down or try to fight for her continued existence. Dwan, on the contrary, “is the aspiring actress, who is found floating on a life raft in the middle of the ocean by the crew of Petrox Explorer” (“Monster Shack Movie Reviews”).
The situation with the appearance of female characters is similar: whereas in the original version the actress is dressed modestly and even mediocre, her replacement’s entire appearance and looks in the movie (1976) represent wealth and confidence (“You Need Furs: The Meaning of Kong ’76”).
There is also a difference in the way Kong is created: in the first film he is a doll, while the director of the second one decides to go by the simplest way – the role of Kong is played by the man. Some changes are connected with the objective circumstances. For example, since in 1976 the tallest building in New York changed, Laurentiis transferred the end of the pictures from the Empire State Building to the building of the World Trade Center.
We should agree with the point of view of James Berardinelli who says that “from a cinematography standpoint, King Kong impresses. Much of the location footage is epic in scope, especially the scene where the initial motorboat penetrates the fog bank surrounding Kong’s island” (Berardinelli).
In 1976, the distinguished feature of King Kong was that the plot of the film was brought up to date. In particular, the story had added some anthropologist who revealed some secrets. Under the existence of such a large monkey, scientific basis is left out. All these “dinosaurs, crocodiles, insects” part of an “abandoned the world” in the first film have been thrown out too.
In the 1933 film, Ann Darrow is the character around which all events occur, but she is not a “deep” hero. In the remake, Dwan is a more richly realized figure. She is in tune with Kong’s feelings for her and, at the same time, she is terrified of him (“You Need Furs: The Meaning of Kong ’76”). The circumstances in which the film was shot and the historical background could not be reflected in the 1976 remake. It was the era when the questions of environmental protection were raised, and King Kong was not an exception. So, the death of Kong is not already necessary, but it is left as in the original.
In the second release of King Kong, Denham is replaced by Fred Wilson who is the oil company executive with a set of not very good human qualities. He comes across Kong by chance and his decision to take him to New York is connected with the desire to resume his ailing financial stability. Thus, the remake is broadly faithful to the original story, but with some differences. “In the original, Kong is a violent creature… while in the remake he only causes death when is forced into a confrontation” (“You Need Furs: The Meaning of Kong ’76”).
In the 1933 film, we see that there is no character who is not responsible for the death of Kong, while in the remake Prescott plays a significant part in it (“You Need Furs: The Meaning of Kong ’76”). Another difference is that the originality and charm of the island has gone and this is undisputed. In the first King Kong, he battles different creatures and all this is well-directed. In the remake, hero does not come across monsters. In fact, Kong has to do that in the original.
Moreover, the “original King Kong is a beautifully crafted masterpiece, full of excitement, atmosphere, emotion, and tragedy” as opposite to the new one (“Monster Shack Movie Reviews”).
One more point is that the relationship melodrama Beauty and the Beast,, which is manifested in the old version, is not so openly compassionate and demonstrative by squeezing tears, as it is practiced in the remake of 1976 and later – of 2005. Despite some inevitable naive scene moments, the first King Kong truly touches the soul.
It should be mentioned that King Kong of 1976 “has something the original lacked: a conscience. And that conscience was personified by the Princeton anthropologist, Jack Prescott” (“You Need Furs: The Meaning of Kong ’76”).
The third version was made by Jackson in 2005. The film King Kong is the new sequel to King Kong, which was filmed in 1933. The budget of this film is 207 million dollars. This is a picture made by a talented director in the fantasy genre. The film is truly Jackson scope, which has everything: a super special effects and wonderful cast.
The really smart move of Jackson, in contrast to the 1976’ version, is keeping the story in the 1930’s. In combination with the latest developments in the field of effects, it gives a striking effect.
Another miracle Jackson made concerned a giant monkey. King Kong became alive and in the most natural way. He is the most actual computer character I have ever seen. What is most surprising is that King Kong does not only look real, but he also plays like the real thing. Moreover, under the guidance of Jackson, Kong completely overshadows all “live” partners, being the so-called “aliving” thing.
Attention is drawn to the main female role. Naomi Watts is a small and fragile woman. Physique is similar to its prototype from 1933 played by Fay Wray. In any case, she is similar to the original to a greater extent than the luxurious and busty Jessica Lange flashed in the remake of 1976. John Guillermin does not pay attention to the fact that the figure of the heroine is of great importance, but for his remake it is not so important. Jackson shows us the ordinary girl and not only for the comparison with the scale of the gorilla. It is equally important for him to show a nice, modest girl who manages to fall in love with the hyper-male, the eighth wonder of the world.
In a film about love of Beauty and the Beast, Naomi Watts plays so convincingly and subtly as she previously played in the movie with the scenes from real life. Her talent and absolute sincerity make a fantastic story in a sample of high drama where the borders between fiction and reality are wiped off. Unlike her predecessors, Watts creates a truly interesting, colorful character, which awakens in us a sense of responsibility for her life.
The undoubted advantage of the new remake is the fact that a girl has the background, which helps us understand her nature better. This young actress is not only beautiful and talented, but she is also characterized by a heightened sense of self-esteem. However, to squeeze out more tears from an unsuspecting viewer, the author of the new King Kong (2005) does not consider it shameful to spend some catchy analogy with the story of Samson and Delilah and play climactic scenes through purely “cartoon” action using almost Shakespearean passions and other heavy arsenal.
Despite the aura of high romance surrounding Kong and Ann, their relationships are spelled very realistically and not without a humor. Consider, for example, how resentful at her King Kong is after a fight with dinosaurs and she gets into the pose. He leaves, allegedly intending to leave her there alone, but he wants her to call him. When she calls, he picks her up immediately and readily.
Jackson manages to take an unforgettable chase scene first when a mad crowd of people and dinosaurs are hilariously rushing in a strange direction, crushing and trampling each other and throwing each other into the abyss and the nearby ditch. However, we face a classic gloss. Despite the fact that the last version runs longer by 88 minutes than King Kong of 1933, Jackson tries to remain true to the original, but he also creates an epic movie for the modern audience (“King Kong Comparison”). The entire first hour of the picture gives the plot of the history and there happens absolutely nothing. However, even with the passive material, the director of the movie is able to make the audience empathize with what is going on, completely dropping out of reality. The immersion in the New York of 30th happens instantly and the escape from the abyss of retro is absolutely impossible.
In a world where you find yourself one on one with nature and with yourself, there is no need to pretend. In general, each hero behaves in accordance with the logic of his character, which we catch before; just here on the island the essence of each is particularly brighter. The difference between the original version and the 2005 remake of King Kong is remarkable. However, the director of the film tries to reveal it from another point of view. In the original version, Kong is shown as a violent beast and a real threat to the humanity, whereas in the remake the character of Kong is more humanized. Nonetheless, I should agree that both films’ underlying messages can be very unnoticed with all the action, adventuring, and amazing special effects going on in the film. This ultimately makes it harder to pick out how power obsessed America was in the original, and how destructive we really are with nature today (“King Kong Remake Analysis”).
Undoubtedly, plots of films are the same, but the dynamics of their development often differs substantially. The latter is explained by different views on certain events of films’ creators. For instance, in the new version negative and destructive impact on nature caused by humans is more pronounced. Moreover, understanding of inner world of King Kong is increased because he becomes an important part of the nature (“King Kong Remake Analysis”).
In the original, the love of Driscoll is a clear demonstration that only through risking his life he is able to get love and respect of a woman. That is why, he so fearlessly rushes into the battle with the beast. It seems that Andrien Brody does the same in his version, but the attitude to Ann’s rescue is less motivated. “This is even truer in New York, where Driscoll’s reunification with Darrow atop the Empire State Building after Kong’s death has none of the pathos of the original” (Wartenberg).
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We can agree with Thomas E. Wartenberg that this is one of the problems with remakes. While they need to retain major elements of the original film in order to be a remake of it, they also have to fiddle with elements that seem arbitrary, offensive, or outmoded. The problem is that works of art are, as Hegel said, organic wholes, so that all of the elements are internally related to one another. Changing one has ramifications for all of the others. As Peter Jackson’s King Kong demonstrates, it is not easy to recreate an organic whole once you change one of its elements (Wartenberg).
If we use the terminology of the Moscow conceptual school, then Jackson’s King Kong is an absolute picture with the most expressive and full accumulation of the collective unconscious and the collective conscious., At least, the viewer wants to lay out his metaphors on the shelves. In the end, the film lets everyone remember something personal while looking at a monkey, which being in a snowy New York grips the blondes in a row, hoping to find a particular one; or how having found her, turns around on the lake ice; or watching as Kong slides from the spire of the Empire State Building, we might think how great it is that we live in the time when the physical obstacles for the movie do not exist and the camera can track anything. King Kong made by Peter Jackson is a true masterpiece, combining a well-designed, exciting plot, great acting game, and the truly fantastic level of computer technology, which allows the audience to feel for a while like Alice in Wonderland, because so reliable and physically palpable is the world created on the screen. I think this is a film for all tastes. Those who expect exciting adventures will enjoy them in full. Those who wait a love story will see something to think about.
I think that the modern version is the most touching and wonderful. The music adds even more poignancy. There are times when you cannot hold back the tears. Everything is so wonderfully shot; the scenery is like the real; Kong is as a true gorilla; and it is difficult to say at once that this is a merit of computer graphics. I think that in the next century King Kong will be interesting to watch too because shooting is really unique. The story itself is unique – the love of King Kong, a huge gorilla ape, for a beautiful girl for whom he is able to sacrifice even his life. The result of the creation of the film is not just a movie about a huge gorilla. It is filled with tragic and profound understanding of being a man in an unknown world. The intervention in his love of a man-destroyer raises a lot of questions, including the protection, but not the destruction of animals. We should not disturb their usual habitat because the animal is dangerous only if it is touched.
No wonder, many researchers call the fact that humans appeared and spread all around the Earth as one of the biggest of environmental disasters of ancient times. The global environmental crisis has gone so far nowadays that disastrous consequences are almost inevitable, and we can talk only about their mitigation. In my opinion, King Kong is a good reminder about it. So, humans provoke aggressive behavior, and animals have to defend themselves and their loved ones. For the sake of his love, King Kong is ready to fight not only with a huge snake, but with an army too. The film has a very deep meaning and this is a huge merit of the director who has created a masterpiece.
Obviously, different versions of King Kong are worth seeing: they have their own charm. It is better to see once than to hear about them twice. I recommend everyone to plunge into this unique atmosphere of the primitive and the modern.