TSPDT Greatest Films #110 King Kong (Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933)
Shadily and unecessary remade in 2005, the story of King Kong transcends time. It represents America on many levels. Like the lecture by Quentin Tarantino in the infamous scene of Inglourious Basterds. Where he highlights the connections between the story of King Kong and the story of black people slavery. This is one of the most interesting visions of Kong. Maybe one of the most accurate too...
A cast of filmmakers and explorers wants to go on a mysterious island where they can film mysterious and never seen before beasts. The filmmaker finds his lead actress in a blond Ann Darrow (Fay Wray). Once on the island, the crew discovers a giant door keeping the islanders safe from the terror of the jungle. The Americans, affraid of nothing and hungry for adventures and sensationalism cross the giant door. This is where they encounter King Kong, a giant gorilla that falls in love with Ann Darrow. The storyline is set mainly to execute fine top of the art special effects.
But many parts of the picture reflects how America sees herself in the 1930's. Its addiction for gigantism is reflected not only in the "kidnapping" of Kong but also when the poor ape climb on the phallic symbol of power of New York City; the Empire State Building. The bigger the better philosphy of America is shown here. The film expresses and reflects the complex of the rise of America as the greatest country in the world. Every nation that has become the leader in the world has done good and bad actions in its rise. In the 1930's with the popularity of American Cinema, the ending of the first World War not far (America hasn't been injured seriously in that war). The major event that has happened was the 1929 Krach of the stock market. But, still the image of America as the nation we know it was forged in those years. The gigantism complex has had its hold on the nations of all times: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Roma, etc. This is a very manly effect, like the phallic symbols, ex.: Washington Monument.
You can also find the complex of controllers of the nature, they want to empower every little bit of the Earth. But to all this there is a moral, things you can't control is love and especially nature. And King Kong is victim of his love for Ann Darrow and it's his nature that will lead him to his tragic death.
King Kong is a monument on itself and proves that without any computer animated images you can tell a story about giant apes and prehistoric monsters and do it right. Sometimes I think that filmmakers tend to put all their craft on visual effects and forget that what we really want to see is a good story and a good film. The films of the 1930's describe what Cinema trully is: good entertainment and great stories.