Tuesday, December 20, 2005

kong

i dont recall having seen the original King Kong (1933), but i do remember catching the 1976 (Jessice Lange) version on a teevee rerun. even though i hadn't reached puberty yet, the most amazing thing i could remember from the movie was that... it was enough to excite your gonads.
i don't know if i missed much by not seeing the '33 version, though i was reading from all quarters that hearing fay wray scream is enough to go and see it. she's the quintessential movie scream, they say. but will i be patient enough to see a black and white oldie? maybe i can reserve my comments for when i can actually see the movie, to see what it can say for its defense.
caught the Jackson (of LOTR) version last saturday. i was hearing faint praise from most everyone, nevermind the length of the epic. i just had to see it for myself.
the movie starts in 1930's new york, america, in the middle of the great depression. all of soup lines and closing establishments. ann darrow (watts) is a vaudeville star who gets part of the collective boot after the theater they're performing in closes down. carl denham (black), a would-be director, sees in her the desparation he believes is an essential part of his movie. he hastens to con ann into joining his outfit. she acquiesces. owing to that desperation denham so badly wants. it also helps things along with ann being the same size as denham's lost lead actress.
they head for the island of the Skull. aboard the ship, ann meets the rest of denham's misfitted cast of geniuses, and the gritty crew of the steamer. she finds the preening star of denham's movie (chandler); there is also the conficted captain of the ship (Kretschmann), the hardy first mate (parke), and his adopted stowaway-son (not legally- Bell).
while the crew is filming, ann falls into ambivalent love with jack driscoll (brody), with whose plays she's fallen in love with a long time ago. and then, to conclude the most boring first third of the movie, the ship finally runs itself aground on the shoals of the Skull.
i remember seeing Kong 1976 and feeling awed by its rendition of the island. CG re-invents the island into something meaner and more tangible. you should see this on the big screen to truly appreciate its magnitude.
on the island, briefly, people are killed, and you'll have a rip-roaring time seeing dinosaurs and bugs, and bigger bugs, and, wonderfully enough, the star of this movie- Kong.
i don't really remember how the 1976 version affected me aside from certain biochemical reactions which signalled my descent into puberty. but jackson's movie will leave you feeling differently. for while watts is easily one of the most beautiful faces to grace the screen, she exudes something more than sheer sensuality. she exudes grace, and a multitude of emotions, lifting her ann darrow to much more than the screaming wraith that she is in her past lives. she'll dance the vaudeville, juggle stones; while we- we fall in love with her alongside Kong. Kong's re-invention is also the highlight of the film. look at his eyes. they're human.
jackson also tries to inject some things into this movie which, observers say, were merely glossed over in the originals and the prior reincarnations. commerce, commercialization, greed, wall street. in the end, we'll all look into the mirror and we'll all think, King Kong is more human than some of us will ever be; we are this world's King Kongs, its monsters.

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