Stop motion animation was used to breathe life into the giant monster in the 1933 original, and the amazing imagery of Kong convinced both the pioneering visual effects creator Ray Harryhausen and the father of Japanese visual effects, Eiji Tsuburaya, to begin their careers as movie monster makers. Harryhausen went on to collaborate with his high school friend, sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury, to create the monster movie in 1953, which later served as a strong inspiration for a year later in 1954. The original was a turning point for special effects movies. It was the point at which the underlying technology of all sci-fi and fantasy movies was reborn and refined.
After maintaining secrecy throughout the trip, Denham finally tells Driscoll and Captain Englehorn that they're searching for an uncharted island. Denham says that the skipper of a freighter gave him the only map that shows its location, having received it in turn from a native of the island who had been swept out to sea. Denham then describes something monstrous connected to the island, a legendary entity known to the islanders as "Kong". As the creeps through the fog surrounding the island, the crew hear drums in the distance. Finally arriving at the island's shore, they see a native village perched on a peninsula, cut off from the bulk of the island by an enormous wall. A landing party, including the filmmaker and his leading lady, goes ashore and encounters the natives, who are about to hand over a girl to Kong as a ritual sacrifice. Although Denham, Englehorn, Jack and Ann are hiding behind foliage, the native chief spots them and approaches the troop. Captain Englehorn is able to understand the native speech, and at Denham's urging makes friendly overtures to the chief. When he gets a clear look at Ann, the chief begins speaking with great energy. Englehorn translates this as "look at the golden woman!" The chief proposes to swap six native women for Ann, an offer Denham delicately declines as he and his party edge away from the scene, assuring the chief that they will return tomorrow to get better acquainted. Back on the Venture, Jack and Ann openly express their love for each another. When Jack is called away to the captain's quarters, a stealthy contingent of natives captures Ann, takes her back to the wall and presents her to Kong in an elaborate ceremony. Kong emerges from the jungle and is revealed to be a giant gorilla. The crew returns to the village and takes control of the wall; half of the crew then go after Kong, encountering an enraged Stegosaur and a territorial Apatosaurus.
That’s a poster by John Berkey, a fantasy artist familiar to fans of science-fiction paperbacks and some of the less widely seen Star Wars posters. As recounted on the fan site , De Laurentiis commissioned the poster seemingly the moment Universal backed down on its version of Kong, and printed it in The New York Times more than a year before the film’s release. In fact, not a frame of his Kong had been shot, and the heroine had yet to be cast, requiring Berkey to draw a generic blonde in Kong’s paw. But De Laurentiis knew how the film would end, anyway: with Kong atop the then-new World Trade Center, fighting as hard as he could and making a ferocious noise. In a canny move, De Laurentiis gave the poster away to those who wrote in to ask for it; tens of thousands did. Then he made sure to reprint it on everything that would hold an image, from to .
A colorized version was created in the 1980s. The film was released officially for the first time on DVD in the US in November 2005, after being available only on VHS and bootleg DVD releases. Warner Home Video and Turner Entertainment have released the film in a two-disc special edition that has been released both with regular DVD packaging and in a Collector's Edition featuring both discs in a collectible tin which also includes a variety of other printed extras exclusive to the Collector's Edition. As of 2006, the US Special Edition has not been released in the United Kingdom, where only a single disc package can be purchased. The film was also part of the film colorization controversy in the early 1980s when it and other classic black and white films were colorized for television. In recent years, the colorized version has become highly prized among Kong collectors, despite its poor colorization work, and there have even been bootleg DVD releases that have appeared on eBay. The colorized version is also available in a Region 2 box set containing the black and white version, the colorized version, (1962) and (1967).
The original King Kong hit theaters in 1933, and I doubt it could have been released much later. Rooted in the promise of lost lands and undiscovered pockets of mystery, King Kong—the brainchild of producer Merian C. Cooper, who co-directed it with Ernest B. Schoedsack—owes a lot to Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World and the subgenre of popular literature it inspired. It owes even more to the dreams of European colonialism and the notion that the world was there for the taking. By 1933, those dreams were starting to fade. There were still blank spots on the map, but they had started to get filled in as technology shrank the world and removed its mysteries. Dreams of far-off lands and exotic creatures were being replaced by flickery images from newsreels and travelogues, some of them of places a generation of men would get to experience firsthand via World War II. Films like King Kong could keep those dreams alive, but only for a little while—and even in Kong, the conquest of a foreign land visits horrible consequences on the conquerors.
The scene is crucial because it removes the element of creepiness in the gorilla/girl relationship in the two earlier "Kongs" (1933 and 1976), creating a wordless bond that allows her to trust him. When Jack Driscoll climbs the mountain to rescue her, he finds her comfortably nestled in Kong's big palm. Ann and Kong in this movie will be threatened by dinosaurs, man-eating worms, giant bats, loathsome insects, spiders, machineguns and the Army Air Corps, and could fall to their death into chasms on Skull Island or from the Empire State Building. But Ann will be as safe as Kong can make her, and he will protect her even from her own species.
The movie more or less faithfully follows the outlines of the original film, but this fundamental adjustment in the relationship between the beauty and the beast gives it heart, a quality the earlier film was lacking. Yes, Kong in 1933 cares for his captive, but she doesn't care so much for him. Kong was always misunderstood, but in the 2005 film, there is someone who knows it.
Was this decision for lack of ideas? Has the march of technology stopped? No. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts simply seems to have made a conscious effort to deviate from the path of his predecessors. Until now all Kong movies have been branches on the 1933 original's evolutionary tree, but this Kong is a different beast altogether. This is immediately apparent when looking at the story setting and home of . The story evolves Kong himself, not just the use of new technology.
Subsequent remakes also relied on this pairing of technology and action. In the 1976 John Guillermin remake, a variety of techniques including animatronics – then considered advanced SFX – along with a full-scale prop and a King Kong suit (worn by none other than special makeup effects guru Rick Baker, the man behind the amazing physical transformation in 1981's ) were used to great effect. The 2005 Peter Jackson remake featured VFX that were a mixture of motion capture and CG. Peter Jackson was famously inspired by the original to become a filmmaker, so it's only natural that his version took place in the same 1930s setting as the original. While staying true to the foundation of the original, Jackson's version uses new technology to advance the visual presentation.
The 1933 version of King Kong takes place near the end of the Great Depression. It's said that the era's pervading sense of economic uncertainty was a key factor in the movie's success. Viewers would flock to entertainment as a means to forget about the uncertainty in their lives, particularly their economic livelihood. In many ways, the story of is self-referential. An aspiring director takes a no-name actress to Skull Island to film his latest movie, but upon discovering King Kong, the director gives up filming and instead contrives to make his fortune by capturing the beast, and putting him on display in New York. Of course, Kong escapes the exhibition, and is killed. We see Kong himself as a metaphor for entertainment as a business – he dies a victim of capitalist consumption.
As Kong ascends the skyscraper, Ann screams not because of the gorilla but because of the attacks on the gorilla by a society that assumes he must be destroyed. The movie makes the same kind of shift involving a giant gorilla that Spielberg's "" (1977) did when he replaced 1950s attacks on alien visitors with a very 1970s attempt to communicate with them (by 2005, Spielberg was back to attacking them, in "").
Up ahead in a jungle clearing, Kong places Ann in a high cleft of a dead upright tree, then goes back and confronts his pursuers as they are walking along the top of an enormous fallen tree trunk over a deep ravine. Kong shakes them all off into the ravine, with only Driscoll and Denham escaping. Driscoll, who had grabbed some vines and ascended the chasm, continues the chase while Denham returns to the village. Meanwhile, a Tyrannosaur approaches a terrified Ann, whose screams alert Kong, who rushes back and confronts the Tyrannosaur. The violent fight between the two titans ends when Kong pries open the dinosaur's jaw until it breaks. Kong takes Ann up to his mountain lair, where a plesiosaur emerges from a bubbling swamp and tries to strangle Kong, who kills it as well. Kong then inspects his blonde prize and begins to caress her, tearing off her clothing and tickling her. Jack interrupts the proceedings by knocking over a boulder. When the gorilla leaves Ann to investigate the noise, a pterosaur swoops from the sky and clutches Ann in its talons. A final fight ensues and the pterodactyl is dispatched and is sent tumbling down the cliff face. While Kong is distracted, Jack rescues Ann and takes her back to the native village. Kong chases them, breaks through the large door of the wall and rampages through the village, killing many of the natives. Denham hurls a gas bomb, knocking Kong out, whereupon he exults in the opportunity to take the giant back to New York: "He's always been King of his world. But we'll teach him fear! We're millionaires, boys! I'll share it with all of you! Why, in a few months, his name will be up in lights on Broadway! Kong! The Eighth Wonder of the World!"