For an introduction to this series, click here.
Oct. 30, 2006
This is has to be among my top 5 favorite movies of all time. I am so glad they finally put this out on DVD last year. It is one of the most iconic films of all time. Even if you've never seen the movie, you know the scene where the natives tie Ann up on that frame and then Kong comes and gets her, you know the scene where Kong climbs the Empire State Building with Ann and then is shot down by double-decker airplanes.
The special effects in this movie are stunning. There was never a man in a suit: it was all animation with a model. The special features on the second disc go into a lot of detail about how the movie was made. The movie was shot one frame at a time, similar to claymation. That's why Kong seems to jerk at times, and his hair moves in strange ways. The puppet was covered in rabbit fur, and there was no way the crew could manipulate the puppet without messing up the fur. It also uses amazing visual effects, such as miniatures and projection. That is how they could have an 18-inch tall model reaching down the side of a cliff to get a full-grown man and have it look realistic. What's really sad to think about is that this movie was made in 1933 and 40 years later special effects in even the biggest Hollywood movies were not as good as this.
I could go on and on about the effects in this movie, but if you didn't already know that stuff you could read about it on Wikipedia. The reason this movie is great is because it is about people: people who are motivated by greed, people who don't respect nature for what it is, and about people who are just trying to get out of a bad situation. Also, Kong himself is imbued with a pathos that makes you feel sorry for him before he dies.
If you have not seen this movie, you need to go see it very soon. One word of warning: this movie is not for little kids, especially the unedited version found in this DVD. Almost 20 years after its release, the powers that were (isn't that the past tense of the powers that be?) cut some controversial scenes from the movie, including several shots in which Kong eats people and a scene where Kong partially disrobes Ann. There is no nudity - the disrobing is more implied than explicitly shown. But the shots of Kong eating people would be quite disturbing for little kids. These scenes were not shown in theaters or on TV for about 30 years. That goes against what we think is the natural progression of things: that society's tastes get more and more crude. Guess that goes to show you these things come in cycles. I, for one, would be in favor of a more restrained cycle. Maybe it will happen someday.