Tuesday, October 19, 2010

31 Monsters of October, Day 19: King Kong

Real World Origin:
Film, King Kong (1933)

In-Universe Description:
When movie director Carl Denham learns of a mysterious island populated by enormous creatures, he quickly puts together an expedition with the intention of using the island's unusual fauna as a backdrop for his latest film. However, the natives have different ideas.

After kidnapping Denham's female lead, Ann Darrow, the natives tie her to an alter as a sacrifice to "Kong", the most fearsome of the island's creatures. Kong is discovered to be a 50-foot tall ape who shares his island with giant snakes and a host of living dinosaurs. Denham's crew rescues Ann with heavy casualties and, in the process, captures Kong with the help of gas grenades.

In the great and ill-conceived tradition of introducing a prehistoric creature into modern civilization (see The Lost World (1925), Revenge of the Creature (1955), Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), etc.), Denham brings Kong to New York. The giant ape escapes, captures Ann again, and rampages through the city. Eventually Kong scales the Empire State Building where he is shot down by airplanes.

King Kong was remade in 1976 by Dino De Laurentiis and again in 2005 by Peter Jackson. While the 1976 version was a modernization of the original, placing the action in the 1970s and replacing the Empire State Building with the World Trade Center, the 2005 version was set in the 1930s. Apparently in response to the most common criticism of the original, in which Kong was oddly attracted to Ann, Jackson's film revises the giant ape's intentions towards Darrow. The heavily scarred Kong is revealed to be the last of his species, which can no longer complete with such creatures as the Tyrannosaurus descendant Vastatosaurus. Instead of being Kong's romantic interest, Ann represents a companion to alleviate his loneliness.

By recreating scenes from the 1933 original as portions of Denham's movie or as stage performances, Jackson seems to imply that the original movie was "based on the true story" that his film represents.

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