Friday, December 09, 2005

Kong Mistakes?

Peter Jackson, director of the new "King Kong" movie, is a fan of the 1933 original. The changes he's made to the story show he doesn't understand it.

Jackson has said he's brought "photorealism" to the tale. Realism? There's not much realistic about the plot of "King Kong"! It's the representation of a dream. Of a nightmare, really.

The black-and-white 1933 original, dreamlike in so many aspects, achieves its objective perfectly-- which is why the movie has appealed to so many people. The subconscious was put onto the screen.

The story is told through a haze, starting with the opening shots in New York City, on to the first relating of the farcically fantastic Kong story on board ship. (A comic book tale if there ever was one.) Kong Island is glimpsed through mists, to haunting music by Max Steiner. The dream is only beginning.

The second mistake Peter Jackson has made is tampering with the personality of Ann Darrow's rescuer and love interest, Jack Driscoll, who in the original is a woman-hating he-man sailor. It should be starkly obvious to every movie buff around that, like the creature in "Forbidden Planet," Kong is a Monster from the Id. Jackson treats King Kong like a separate character, when Kong HAS NO EXISTENCE apart from Jack the sailor. In the original movie he's a metaphor for the dawning sexual attraction between Ann and Jack. Kong is the beast within Jack unleashed. This theme is carried on throughout the movie. Doesn't the monster represent Victorian/feminist hysteria over what's going to happen to Ann Darrow on her wedding night?

Clues about this are everyplace. Back in New York, Jack uncomfortable in the collar of his tuxedo parallels the monster in chains yards away on stage. The hotel room Jack and Ann flee to looks like a bridal suite-- Kong staring through the window on their wedding night. At the end, the shot of Ann clambering into Jack's arms is followed by the monster sprawling dead below, with the promoter's cryptic remark, "Twas Beauty killed the Beast!" The roughneck sailor presumably has been tamed and domesticated.

Peter Jackson changing the monster and the male lead tampers with the delicate balance of the original story. In the original, Kong doesn't look humanized, or like a long-haired Chewbacca there for our sympathy. He was made to look and behave as frightening as possible for the time (down to chewing up people between his teeth); like a mad indistinct monster from out of our dreams.

1 comment:

King Wenclas said...

The wierdest point of all: The map of Kong Island which Denham shows the captain in the original version is a map of the human mind! The smaller part of the island, where the natives have set up an organized society, represents the conscious. The subconscious, behind the wall, the rest of the "island," is a place of monsters and terrors.