Film Review: King Kong(1933)

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  • Topic: King Kong, Culture
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  • Published : May 12, 2013
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Qing Min
Apr 21, 2013
AHI 356 Imaging Otherness in Visual Culture
Film Review 8 King Kong

Though the movie King Kong could not possibly cause anyone to lose sleep after seeing it today, it was certainly classified as a horror movie when it firstly went public in 1933. On the one hand, the director’s intentional blurring between the boundary of a documentary and a fiction added to the horror effect. On the other hand, besides the use of cutting-edge cinematic technology, the era of Great Depression and thus the unusual psychology of people during the crisis also contributed greatly to the huge success of King Kong. Just like Carl Denham expects towards the end of the film: “The whole world will pay to see this! The eighth wonder of the world ”, the whole world did pay to see this, to see the movie. Somehow the movie took advantage of people’s psychology during the crisis and made them realize how lucky they were to live in a world without having such monster as Kong destroying the city. Suddenly the plight of losing a job became acceptable.

The hierarchy of race permeates the movie. The idea that the primitive stands no chance in winning over the civilized is emphasized repeatedly. Woman, interesting enough, plays the intermediate role in between. The primitives are represented by Kong, the native people in the skull island, and even the chef Charlie. To begin with, when they are still sailing in the sea, Ann engages in a small talk with Charlie while he is peeling potatoes. His English is awkward and his attitude towards Ann is polite and humble. Then Jack comes over and his attitude towards Ann is condescending. (“You are a trouble just being around.”) When they arrive the skull island and make contact with the native people, Denham was fascinated by the ritual conducted by the natives. However, his frivolous whistling shows that he pays no respect to the natives or their ceremony. All he sees is money and fame if he can film all these scenes and sell...
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