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Kong-sized movie
by F. A. Hutchison
Issue 12
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King Kong
Peter Jackson

I just saw the latest version of King Kong, this time with the American actors speaking Chinese-this in a movie theater in Shanghai! Talk about a movie-'koing' experience… This in a small 'room' with a huge screen! But, it was full of Chinese moviegoers, me and Ceres. I had read where it was in English, with Chinese sub-titles, but it turned out to be dubbed into Chinese. And what a good job of dubbing. I was impressed! Nonetheless, it's a bit strange to see Anglo people speaking such Chinese!

This is the third version of the 'King Kong' movie I've seen (in my lifetime)! The original (I think it produced in the late 1930s), the second one made about twenty years ago starting Jessica Lange's career, and this the latest version. Seems to me every time it gets worse!

Interesting about the second version (along about 1985?), the promotion of… I just happened to be sitting in the bar on the 66th Floor of the RCA building in N.Y.C. (this bar has a name that escapes me at the moment). I think I was having a drink with my old friend Joyce Hellew? There in front of us, looking south to the Empire State Building they had managed to tie a huge 'King Kong' balloon to the facade. Of course, everyone photographed this and the movie, as 'ape' movies always do, cashed in! Remember Mighty Joe Young?

Think of the challenge and expensive of tying a huge balloon to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. On the other hand, N.Y.C. has much experience with these large 'ani-po-morphic' balloons used in the 'Macy's Day' Parade! I'm sure that year King Kong flew along over Broadway too. Gotta maximum the use, get your money's worth out of these expensive balloons-extend the 'reach!'

Ironically, I'd been in L.A. a few years earlier, visiting my Hollywood 'Gafer' friend Lee Heckler on the MGM Studios in Culver City. There on a back lot they had built this huge wall (for the second version), the 'wall' leading into the 'Heart of Darkness,' the ancient 'city' behind where Kong lived. This life-size wall, right there in Culver City, not far from where I used to play golf (attended El Segundo H.S.). Now, there build models instead of life-size walls.

In this most recent version of 'King Kong' there's a reference to Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness.' This is the second movie in my lifetime that's made reference to Conrad's novel. The first 'Apocalypse Now,' thirty years ago. I'm happy seeing Joe get a little exposure. I'll bet you don't know where he was born?

This latest version of 'King Kong' was directed by New Zealander, Peter Jackson… But, way too long (three hours) and too over blown (up)! Gosh, like a Spielberg 'The Adventures of…" this had everything including nasty dinosaurs, giant spiders, bats, and centipedes, and all after the girl and the men trying to protect her. Of course, when the ape turns out be a 'good guy,' (saves her life numerous times) she falls for him!

The basic story behind all this is, 'Beauty and the Beast!' This, a wonderful myth about compassion (King Kong) and wisdom (the female) being drawn to one another, only to be thwarted by the usual bad guys (unconsciousness). Kong's ultimate demise is at the hands of modern technology! I'm not sure the 'Hollywood' writers even understood the mythology behind the FX.

But, what FX! They created New York City in the 1930s! God only know what that cost!

From The Daily Dosage (15/1/06)

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