Film Review - King Kong

King Kong

Release date - 1933
Director - Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper.
Genre - Disaster film, Fantasy, Animation, Stop motion, thriller.

I couldn't possible praise this film enough, the basic plot of it is Carl Denham, a unpredictable film maker, is on a voyage to skull island, an uncharted mystical land where somehow prehistoric creatures still exist, he brings with him a young woman called Ann Darrow, who he finds in New York struggling to survive and offers her a once in a life time voyage, she naively accepts and is cast as lead actress, but once on the island the natives decide their presence has ruined their ritual and want Ann to make up for it, once they talk their way out of giving her over and retreat to the ship they come to capture her anyway and offer her up as a sacrifice to their giant ape god, kong. Once kong see's Ann however he instantly has a unique interest in her and carries her off into the unknown land, denham and his crew venture into the unknown to get her back attempting to fight against the dinosaurs and kong, in the very end kong is captured and brought back to NewYork and put on show as the 8th wonder of the world where he shortly breaks free due to him going into a blind rage from all the flash photography, goes though NewYork causing havoc to find Ann and proceeds to climb the empire state building to escape the people and armed forces, so begins one of the most iconic endings of all time. There is so much to mention about this brilliant film it's hard to refine it, firstly you must appreciate the jungle that makes up the island, it has a dark but magical quality and was all made by hand. As you may already know kong and the other prehistoric creatures are all stop motion, many other reviews by other people also like to bring up the stop motion side of the film like Mark Chalon Smith, "Directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack use Willis O'Brien's stop-motion special effects--spectacular state-of-the-art for the '30s--to develop a series of tumultuous action scenes, both on the island and in Manhattan, culminating with Kong's famous star turn atop the Empire State Building." (Smith,1991). So you can only imagine how many hours it took to film this and to combined the live actors with the stop motion footage they had to invent new techniques so a lot of the time the actors were performing in front of a projection other times two pieces of footage were joined together and even some times footage was projected onto the set frame by frame being animated around (fig.2). Tim Dirks also talks about the revolutionary techniques used in the film "This remarkable film received no Academy Awards nominations - it would have won in the Special Effects category if there had been such a category. The film contained many revolutionary technical innovations for its time (rear projection, miniature models about 18 inches in height, and trick photography, etc.), and some of the most phenomenal stop-motion animation sequences and special effects ever filmed (by chief technician Willis O'Brien, famed for his first feature film The Lost World (1925))." (Dirks, 2010) There were full size parts of kong like the hands, face and feet for certain moments in the film (Fig.3). For a film made in 1933 it is just unbelievable what they done and how they done it Laurie Boeder also discusses the full size parts of kong and the faults of animation by saying "So what if Kong keeps changing size in relation to the world? If his fur ripples oddly in the skyscraper scenes (marked by fingertips as he was posed for each shot)? So what if Kong's big, bare paw is clearly mechanical as he plucks off bits of Ann's dress? Crude by today's lights, these special effects were all new, big and sensational in 1933. The low-budget fantasy was a gargantuan hit and a huge money-maker..". (Boeder,2012). We also can't forget to mention the sound that accompanies this film, kong's roar alone was a combination of animal growls. All this wrapped up by a timeless story of beauty and beast.

Footage projected onto live set to animate around.
Full size parts for when Kong grabs Ann.

Bibliography -

Boeder, Laurie. (2012) 'King Kong - The Original'
In: http://www.about.com/entertainment 23.05.12 [online]
At: http://classicfilm.about.com/od/earlysciencefiction/fr/King_Kong.htm (Accessed on the 12.10.14)

Chalon Smith, Mark. (1991) 'Everything's monkey-dory in kong'
In: http://www.latimes.com 28.10.91 [online]
At: http://articles.latimes.com/1991-10-24/news/ol-253_1_king-kong (Accessed on the 12.10.14)

Dirks, Tim. (2010) 'King Kong (1933)'
In: http://www.filmsite.org 12.02.10 [online]
At: http://www.filmsite.org/kingk.html (Accessed on the 12.10.14)

Illustration List -

Figure 1. King Kong Lives / Dokumentation (1933) From: King Kong. Directed By Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper. [Film Still]
USA: RKO Pictures. At: http://nilowanner.ch/kingkongdoku/material/king_kong_1.jpg (Accessed on the 12.10.14)

Figure 2. Miniture rear projection in 1933's King Kong (1933) From: King Kong. Directed By Directed By Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper. [Film Still]
USA: RKO Pictures. At: http://www.criticalcommons.org/Members/pcote/clips/king-kong-miniature-rear-projection.mov/thumbnailImage. (Accessed on the 12.10.14)

Figure 3. The mechanical hand (1933) From: King Kong. Directed By Directed By Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper. [Film Still]
USA: RKO Pictures. At: http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&docid=iuV0EleUW17zPM&tbnid=4wczofBCNG0ViM:&ved=0CAUQjBw4OA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pulpanddagger.com%2Fcanuck%2Farm4.jpg&ei=_CI7VNXuDoqd7ga9_4C4DA&psig=AFQjCNEnH91i0D9rv1cFUF-RooSOtViumA&ust=1413248124321155 (Accessed on the 12.10.14)


  1. Hi Becky,

    Just a quick comment about the layout of your writing - it is quite daunting for your reader to be faced with one massive block of text like this. You need to break it up into paragraphs, so each time you start discussing a new subject, start a new paragraph :)
    Also, make sure that you remember to use capitals for the characters' names...
    Other than that, it sounds as though you enjoyed the film!

    1. Hey Jackie,
      just wanted to thank you for the advice given on all my reviews, i tend to keep forgetting the little things like italics and apparently now capitals... -_-
      but thanks again :)