Exploring unseen continents and unlocking the mysteries of the world, documentary expeditions in the early 20th century where cataloguing foreign cultures and aesthetics bringing the “armchair traveller” to the western worlds population, letting them escape into new worlds from the great depression of the 1930’s. Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933 action-adventure blockbuster “King Kong” blends the ever popular documentary explorer, with the spectacle of turning scientific belief on its head and finding a 60ft ape, extinct dinosaurs, unseen African magic and sacrifice.
Willis O’Brien special effects artifice impressively creates a engaging environment of size and stature. Where man and beast can occupy the same space in a seamless plane. “In adhering to the proper perspectives the technical crew has never missed. The illusion of comparative size is splendid”
King Kongs political racial underpinning provides some uncomfortable viewing in today’s social conformities, referring to miscegenation and the slave trade. I’m not sure how to word this section, so a selection of quotes will explain the racial difference at the time of King Kong.
“Carl Denham’s introductory speech here highlights the uncomfortable parallels this film draws with the US slave trade, and the ensuing years of civil tension between black and white Americans. Released 35 years before the end of segregation and the passing of the Civil Rights Act, the film offers up a disturbing portrait of the dominant white racial ideologies of the time, implying that the idea of America (as represented by Manhattan’s iconic topography) would be destroyed if the black man were given total freedom.”
• Woods, P. A. (ed.) (2005) King Kong cometh!: the evolution of the great ape. London: Plexus Publishing
• Fig. 1. http://cinentransit.com/el-cine-a-ojos-de-un-nino/king-kong-1933
• Fig. 2. http://www.wearemoviegeeks.com/2013/09/king-kong-turns-80-a-retrospective/king-kong-1933-granger/