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The Once And Future King

 article about King Kong movie millions
A very long time ago, in the year 1933, a motion picture was made in
Hollywoodland in California. The film told the bittersweet story of the
impossible love that developed between two strangers who met by
accident on a distant tropical island, and then get reacquainted in
Manhattan, another island where dreams come true, only to have their
hopes shot down once again.


Perhaps the relationship was
doomed to fail, the leading man being a dark, moody and aggressive
individual and the leading lady being prone to melodrama and
histrionics. Their union was perhaps simply not meant to be, and their
love, like many fictional characters, was star-crossed. He was
seemingly from another time, an individual willing to slay dragons to
defend his true love's honour, but she, by contrast, was the archetypal
modern woman, not wishing and probably unwilling to be swept off her
feet and be carried away by her paramour.

Then again, it may
not have worked on a purely physical level, due to the undeniable fact
that he was a 40ft tall mutant male mountain gorilla and she was a 5'2
blonde-haired, blue-eyed human female. The motion picture was King
Kong, and the title character was played by a poseable metal and rubber
model, less than sixteen inches in height and covered in rabbit fur.
This model of Kong was positioned and photographed one frame at a time,
in stop-motion animation style, and when his filmed movements were
spliced with those of his flesh-and-blood co-stars in a special matte
process, the 16-inch puppet ape seemed to come alive as the 40ft-plus
King Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World.

Creating this
visual trickery was both painstaking and frustrating, and although the
special effects seem primitive and unrealistic, if one compares them to
the computer generated digital imagery of modern film, one must keep in
mind that to the audiences of 1933, the illusion was nothing short of
spectacular and terrifying. It was a celluloid fantasy with a special
mixture of mayhem and magic, with dinosaurs, derring-do and drama. The
economically depressed cinema-goers of the era ate it up like a
brontosaurus chowing down on sailors.

At the end of this year,
2005, the Oscar-winning New Zealand director of the Lord of the Rings
Trilogy, Peter Jackson, will release a new cinematic version of the
tale. It will be the second remake of this film classic, the first one
an abysmal failure made in 1977 whose only redeeming quality is the
fact that it introduced the notable talents of actress Jessica Lange
and the effects makeup wizardry of Rick Baker to the world of film.
Peter Jackson has kept his Kong production quite private, with very
little media hype so far. No images of his King Kong have yet been made
available.

The new film has a cast that includes the capable
and versatile Australian actress Naomi Watts and the comedic American
actor Jack Black. Apparently, Jackson has remained quite loyal to the
1933 screenplay, so purists like myself await the mighty Kong's third
treatment with impatience and hope. I hope it is a good film. But more
than anything, I hope that Jackson's King Kong will differ in at least
one way from the original. I hope it has a different ending.

I
first saw the 1933 King Kong when I was nine years of age, and I must
have watched it at least three hundred times since then and every
single time I do, I always want that big ape to survive. I never have
thought it was fair to Kong, (who is simultaneously both the hero AND
the villain of the tale) to have travelled that great distance to be
with his true love only to get shot down. He gets killed in the 1977
production as well, in that version taking a header off of the top of
the ill-fated World Trade Center's twin towers (only to be resurrected
in the equally awful sequel, appropriately titled ‘King Kong Lives').

Then
again, I suppose that the original concept of the massive beast
perishing in the film's finale is probably the only part of this
wonderful fantasy story that is completely believable, as anyone who
has ever been in a tragic romance and has had their heart broken can
attest to.



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