Kingdom Kong

Kingdom Kong

  • Posted by: Steve Biodrowski

The MSNBC website has posted an article from this week’s Newsweek called “Kingdom Kong,” which gives a brief behind-the-scenes glimpse at the making of Peter Jackson’s KING KONG. It’s moderately interesting if not particularly informative. Typical of this kind of entertainment “jouranlism,” the point is not so much to report anything interesting to the reader; rather, it’s to let the reader know that the publicaton got inside access to a to a big-time movie set (“an exclusive visit,” crows the headline).

There are a few amusing tidbits. Director Peter Jackson jokes about the foolishness of trying to top LORD OF THE RINGS and talks about the “possibility of failure” in regards to KONG, to which his wife and co-writer replies: “It’s more than posssiblity. It’s inevitablity!” However, Philippa Boyens, who worked on the scripts for both RINGS and KONG, counters by saying. “For the record, KONG is going to kick LORD OF THE RINGS ass!”

Later, reporter Jeff Giles accurately notes that the 1932 version of KING KONG is more than the sum of its parts — a subtle way of saying there is some room for improvement in the remake. Strangely, his first example is the animation for the giant ape — which is actually one of the original film’s highlights. No, the old Kong’s stop-motion isn’t perfect, but it does achieve the kind of stylization that perfectly justifies itself in the context of an expressionsitic-looking black-and-white monster movie. (To back up Giles’ claim that the new Kong will be more frightening and dynamic than the old one, the article is illustrated with a conceptual art rendering of the gorilla fighting a T-Rex. However, the most striking thing about the image is how closely it resembles the pre-production art for the original King Kong.)

Giles also hopes that the new version will “redress the dated, if not racits, protrayal of the islanders who watch Kong get dragged off in chains.” I’m not sure why he selects that particular detail to characterize the portrayal of the islanders — who are not portrayed in a particularly egregious manner, at least by the standards of 1930s movie-making. (Curiously, Giles overlooks the rather ridiculous comic relief characterization of the Chinese cook aboard the ship that visits Kong’s island — a stereotype which is off-putitng to modern viewers.)

Perhaps the most exciting thing in the article is that last paragraph, wherein Giles describes an “animatic” (basically, a rough computer-animated version) of the film’s last nine minutes as “breathtaking” and “stunning.” It’s the one glimpse the article gives us that really might whet a viewer’s apetite to see this new version of one of the screen’s great movie monsters.

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