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King Kong Review

King Kong Review

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Published by shanmason93

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: shanmason93 on Oct 25, 2012
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King Kong 1933: Cinematic Spaces

Fig 1. King Kong (c.1933)

King Kong (1933) utilised a series of cinematic techniques which played a crucial element to the development of cinema; paying particular attention to effects which dominated the production of the cinematic spaces and the cast which pre-occupied them. Willis O’Brien used a range of effects which revolutionised the production of film. “The movie plunders every trick in the book to create its illusions, using live action, back projection, stopmotion animation, miniatures, models, matte paintings and sleight-of-hand.” (Ebert 2002) It is important to understand the limitations of early cinema to begin to imagine the impact this wide experimental range of effects had on the industry of cinema. Technological enhancements allowed producers to experiment with cinematic spaces and dialogue to produce emotive responses inside the viewers. Kong features pan shots of humans running from giant insects and Jurassic creatures whilst also manipulating long, mid and close up shots to convey the shocked expressions of the cast when they discover the frightful scale of the creatures in “King Kong” (particularly in the repeated close ups of damsel in distress, ‘scream queen’, Fay Wray). Long shots build intensity in approach to the island which hints at the closing distance of the Westerners journey to Skull Island which mounted to a climax when the first roars of Kong break the silence. The processes used to shoot scene-to-scene in Kong were revolutionary to the extent that we reflect them in today’s television and cinema. “Willis O'Brien created impressive effects that were not only technically brilliant, but also highly imaginative in terms of cinematic action.”… “The plot was kept simple but believable enough to allow the audience to enjoy the special effects that would dominate.” (Haflidason 2001) Painted panes of glass were used to create an atmospheric feel of density to the jungles of Skull Island. Giving the cinematic space a three dimensional feel over the 2D backdrops which occupied the sets of film beforehand. Similarly digital artists now create layers inside photo shop to create differences in the atmosphere for artwork. This added a great impotence to strive to border reality towards the completely unnatural scale of King Kong which in turn generated the successful for depiction of a horror film; Using effects made the character of Kong more fluid-like more believable and consequently more frightening.

Fig 2. King Kong dwarfing the American skyline (1933)

However engaging with King Kong is obligatory to modern day viewers through the obvious racial and sexist themes referenced throughout the film. In 1933 ethnical and gender equality were largely unrecognised to society as compared to multiculturalist morality of the twenty first century. This created huge implications for the like for like remake of King Kong in 2005, where Peter Jackson’s reproduction was specifically created to convey the changes in equality between 1933 and 2005. Inside The geographical location of Skull Island and its inhabitants prompts racial themes “Not only is the island home to Kong and a group of Black natives, it is also inhabited by a large number of prehistoric beasts. Dinosaurs are seen to coexist with the indigenous peoples.” (McKay 2005). The coexistence of the pre historic and black natives prompts the notion of savagery and that somehow the white westerners are travelling backwards in time to the black island. Although modern day audiences turn away from the screen at such crude racism, the society of 1933 would rely upon the racial imagery to develop a key understanding and structure to the plot. “On his native island, he is imposing, but not nearly as imposing as he becomes when he reaches the American shores. Once he finally escapes and rebels, he reaches his most impressive height, simultaneously signifying his overwhelming danger to American cultural stability (represented by the Empire State Building—then a very current symbol of American industrial progress).” (McKay 2005). McKay then goes on to explain how the scale of Kong continues to grow from his journey from Skull Island to America, signifying the fear of multiculturalism and complete lack of equality present in 1933.

Fig 3. Fey Wray in King Kong (1933)

Overall Kong is successful in its sheers amount of special effects and its manor of creatively manipulating cinematography. However the plot has to be altered considerable for a modern day

viewer to engage with the film emotively and offer a strong response. It is however a jewell of its time and has influenced a new genre of film and rampant breeds of gigantic creatures ranging from Godzilla to Jurassic Park.

Fig.4 King Kong (1933)

Bibliography: Haflidason . A(2001). King Kong (1933.)At: http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/01/30/king_kong_1933_review.shtml (Accessed on 25/10/12) McKay .B (2005). Of Monsters and Myths: Colonial Representations in King Kong (1933). At: http://blogcritics.org/video/article/of-monsters-and-myths-colonial-representations/ (Accessed on 25/10/12) Ebert .R(2002) King Kong (1933). At: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20020203/REVIEWS08/202030301/102 3 (Accessed on 25/10/12) Illustration List: Figure 1. King Kong (c.1933)[poster] At: http://www.fanpop.com/spots/kingkong/images/2793828/title/king-kong-1933-movie-poster-photo (Accessed on 25/10/12) Figure 2. King Kong dwarfing the American Skyline [still] At: http://www.fact.co.uk/whats-on/kingkong-1933 (Accessed on 25/10/12) Figure 3. Fay Wray in King Kong (1933) [still] At: http://www.movieactors.com/actors/faywray.htm (Accessed on 25/10/12) Figure 4. King Kong (1933) [still] At: http://horrornews.net/5051/film-review-king-kong-1933/kingkong-1933-photo-8/ (Accessed on 25/10/12)

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