Wow, time to sound like a broken record if you’ve read my review of Peter Jackson’s version of King Kong, but I did not expect for this to be as BRUTAL as it is — Skull Island truly did a number on me! This was made in 1933! I don’t know where the American logic was that more than 30 years later Alfred Hitchcock could get s**t for killing someone in the shower but we were all beforehand fine when we watched like 10 men helplessly fall to their death — is it the ridiculous gender standard? The blood? Who knows? Well, yeah, it probably was the blood… and the semi-nudity…
The stop-motion in Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack’s original is quite engaging in its creature-esc puppeteering and diligently compiled set pieces. The film does a sufficient job as well of hybridizing the animation with live-action, even after all these years of time for it to possibly stale. Obviously, Ann and Kong’s relational dynamic isn’t NEARLY as drawing as it was in Jackson’s interpretation; the 2005 version used their bond as a catalyst to evoke its memos of the beauty and terror in animalistic nature and the importance of evolutionary connection rather than evolutionary divide, not to mention it had a more captivating awareness of the film industry. Although, as for Cooper and Schoedsack’s version, I can admit that I favored its minimalism in supporting characters and arcs when compared to Jackson’s, which was a bit bloated with them; the plot here is a little slicker and less convoluted too despite their similarities.
The 1933 King Kong seems rather more concerned with shining a light on the weak spots that beauty has on even that of the most monstrous of considered gods. Jackson’s version has far more humanity though in its tale of egoism and its inevitable drawbacks, but I think Cooper and Schoedsack’s original is a lot tighter as a straightforward exploration of man’s unappealing aggression towards desire, and the vulnerability that comes from it. I’m also just generally happy that the two versions are clearly separate from one another, in that, they attempt to explore very different themes. Good decision, Jackson! 👍
As a once avid Dinosaur expert back when I was not even double digits, however, I was salty to see that nobody clearly did their Brontosaurus research before making this picture. Tsk, tsk.
“King Kong” is now available to stream on HBO Max.