King Kong; Fantasy adventure, USA, 1933; D: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Shoedsack, S: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher, Sam Hardy
Adventure director Denham, unemployed actress Anne and his film crew leave New York for some unknown Pacific island in a ship in order to make a film. During the ride, Anne falls in love with Jack Driscoll. Once on the island, they meet a group of natives that kidnap Anne in order to sacrifice her to their giant ape, King Kong. Since Kong took Anne away, the crew lead by Jack decide to save her - on their way they meet dinosaurs and giant monsters and a lot of them dies. Still, they manage to capture Kong and bring him to New York. There he escapes and dies by falling from the Empire State Building.
One of the most poignant and influential movies of fantasy genre of the '30s, from the time when the cinema was still young and fresh, achieved a great success and inspired two movie remakes. Despite the fact that the special effects quickly became slightly charmingly dated and even though there are present elements of naive, "King Kong" handles the claustrophobia, critique of the media and interracial obstacles in a romance - implied in the relationship between King Kong and Anne - in a virtuoso conceptualized way. The appearances of such monsters like the Stegosaurus, Diplodocus, Tyrannosaurus rex and a giant snake - placed in scene with stop-motion technique – are unrealistic, thus it must be truly praised that the film achieved a rarity: it became excellent even though it stepped deep into campy elements. Cooper and Shoedsack direct some adventure sequences with bravura; for instance, the long take in which a Stegosaurus from the far horizon starts chasing directly towards the ship crew, until it reaches close to camera when they are able to shoot and stop it. The fight of King Kong and T-rex without any music. The famous Empire State Building finale. Extraordinary handling of landscapes where the contrast of giant monsters and small humans comes to the full extent and so on. The title monster, King Kong, appears only after some 30 minutes into the film, creating a tone of uncertainty. Even though “King Kong”, a real non-stop fantasy spectacle of old school, is rarely shown today on television, it still became influential to many other films, from Harryhausen’s films up to “Jurassic Park”, yet none of them had it’s authentic charm that stirred up the cinema with such ease and indulged the human fascination with giant monsters at the same time.