|Fig 1 'King Kong 1933' Poster|
'King Kong' is a film that was released in 1933 and it was made by 'Merian C. Cooper' and 'Ernest B. Schoedsack'. The film was one of the first of its kind and is also known as "The father of "Jurassic Park," the "Alien" movies and countless other stories in which heros are terrified by skillful special effects." (Roger. Ebert 2002). It set the standard for future special effects films to come and when you look at some of the details really closely you can see that the team that designed 'King Kong' (Character) and the sets really pulled out all the stops in order to get the best quality product possible.
|Fig 2 'King Kong' Log Scene|
|Fig 3 'King Kong' vs T-rex Concept Art|
When actually designing the props/characters in 'King Kong' they had very little reference, for example the T-rex. No-one had ever seen a T-rex before, so the team had to come up with a design that you could straight away say "Oh look! A T-rex!". Using lizards as an reference they would be able to come up with some sort of design that looked like a T-rex and you could easily tell it was a reptile which was what the T-rex was. King Kong's design however was much different, they could have based King Kong off of humans but that would have taken away from the realism. Instead they decided to base the design off of a gorilla. The main reason being is that a Gorilla is big, black and brutal, attributes of something scary but it also had another not very well known design choice. During the time that this film was made Racism was quite a bit more controversial than it is today, some "coloured" people were seen as more of a threat than others. So having a Big black brute instead of a tall white giant would easily have been a lot more intimidating than most designs.
|Fig 4 'King Kong' vs T-rex|
|Fig 5 'King Kong' 'Ann Darrow'|
The team also must have put a lot of work when designing the animations behind 'King Kong', the reason is the way he acts can be related to apes and humans. In the scene where 'King Kong' kills the T-rex you can that using nothing but brute force he snaps its jaw then plays with it? There is a reason for this, we know we are related to apes and the best way that we both learn is through experimentation and playing. 'King Kong' moves the jaw around almost as if it were a three year old child playing with a toy, learning from playing and previous experience. "What may surprise you about the film is the richness of Kong's character, which is due to attention put into the special effects" (Almar Haflidason. 2001) Also the way he interacts with 'Anne Darrow' in some scenes is very interesting because he treats her almost as if she is a toy and how some men would have treated women in the 1930s. In a scene where 'Ann Darrow' and 'King Kong' are on a cliff 'King Kong' picks up 'Ann Darrow' and beings to tickle her. What happens next is very symbolic but was very controversial because of how it was shown, 'King Kong' rips some of 'Ann Darrow's'clothing making her more exposed each time to the point where she is almost naked. If that wasn't bad enough he then rubs her, sniffs his finger as if to pleasure himself. "Shortly before the Pteranodon tries to eat Anne, Kong sits down with her on the top of a mountain and takes a moment to look over his new toy in some depth. What made this scene unacceptable to the censors of later years is the fact that Kong tears of-- and sniffs-- most of Anne's clothing in the process of poking at her and fiddling with her to see how she works" (Scott Ashlin 2003-2015) Now whilst this scene was very "different" it did have some meaning behind it, 'King Kong' is this Big Black Brute and 'Ann Darrow' is this Beautiful Innocent woman, the two are almost like partners and will do thing to strengthen this bond, she gives the brute "pleasure and company" whilst 'King Kong' provides "protection". This fits in perfectly with the theory that was presents earlier, men would fight over the woman, but when someone else attempted to take 'Ann Darrow' away from 'King Kong' he lashed out violently, protecting his prize, his possession.
|Fig 6 'King Kong' Chained Up|
The last point to make is how King Kong is represented when he is brought to New York. He was a King his own world, free, powerful, was able to do whatever he wished. When is brought over to new York his is a prisoner, a slave for our amusement, our labour. What this scene shows is this big black brute being imprisoned for us to us, starting to get where this is going? Race enslavement was a big thing in the 1930s as was racism, what you then get is a perfect example of 'King Kong' being deceived by 'Ann Darrow' and then using him as a tool to do her bidding. In this one scene 'King Kong' is also shown what happen when he attempted to free himself from enslavement, he is met with a death penalty, being gunned down by teams of people. This would have been what happen when some races were enslaved in the 1930s, their masters bidding was not done so the slave must pay for it with his/her life.
|Fig 7 'King Kong' Empire State Building Fight|
Almar Haflidason. (2001). King Kong.
Last accessed 15/10/2015.
Roger Ebert. (2002). King Kong (1933).
Last accessed 15/10/2015.
Scott Ashlin. (2003-2015). King Kong (1933).
Last accessed 15/10/2015.
Fig 1 'King Kong' Poster: http://usercontent1.hubimg.com/12654352_f1024.jpg
Fig 2 'King Kong' Log Scene:
Fig 3 'King Kong' vs T-rex Concept Art:
Fig 4 'King Kong' vs T-rex:
Fig 5 'King Kong' 'Ann Darrow':
Fig 6 'King Kong' Chained Up:
Fig 7: 'King Kong' Empire State Building Fight: