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King Kong

King Kong (1933) - 8,5

Filmmaker Carl Denham and his film crew prepare to embark on an expedition to inhospitable and virtually unknown location. Legend has it that somewhere in the Indian Ocean lies an uncharted island inhabited by a primitive civilization. This civilization has remained isolated from the rest of the world hereby creating a mysterious and unique culture of adoration centered around a monstrous and prehistoric creature - Kong. This is the story that motivates Denham to set forward the expedition. He keeps the rest of the crew ignorant of the motivations until they are close enough of their destination. Denham intends to verify the facts behind the legend and aspires to be the first person to capture the so-called creature in film. But his ambition cannot match the epic proportions of the ordeal ahead of them. The explorer and his team will be treated with the experience of a lifetime.

The context in which King Kong emerged is quite interesting. Scientific and technological breakthroughs in the early 20th century had drastically affected the lives of many Americans. With the Great Depression hitting hard, thirst for progress and financial empowerment became top priorities for the population. The cinematic industry took upon itself the route of escapism for a public that was jaded by the hardships of real life.

King Kong was crafted when the ability of fantastic cinema to bewilder and haunt the audience was probably at its greatest. In the 30s, one of the public's most prominent cinematic whims was to submit the bizarre, the unfathomable, the dangerous or the excentric to the scrutiny of scientific exploration. This caprice was capitalized in exotic adventures that sharply contrasted with the lameness of real life, and that, by virtue of their populist nature, reinforced certain ideological agendas and even social prejudices largely extinguished today. This movie descends from a long tradition of jungle movies in America, specifically, a subgenre that explored pseudo-romantic relationships between apes and women.

Notwithstanding its ludicrous premise, King Kong is symbolic of the American aspirations during the Great Depression. The ability of the individual to confront and conquer any hardships of life no matter how magnificent those hardships may be, was the sort of message that many Americans sought after in cinemas. The characters of the movie also display an ethos that seems representative of, at least, the male mindset in the 30s.

King Kong is a wholly competent movie. It employs a formula of populist cinema still kept in use today, but here it was shaped with a visionary ambition that can hardly be matched by contemporary filmmaking. This is not a subtle flick. We are promptly engulfed in the 'action' without much ceremony and only a sketch of suspense. Romance, fantasy, humor, adventure and terror are all intertwined in a wholly coherent work that still entertains today. King Kong must have been an immense technical challenge. I'm intrigued about the method used to merge the stop motion animation and live action into coherent scenes. It still looks amazingly believable today. It looks so good that it invokes in me a feeling of surreal enchantment that I can't get in any other film. This is a technically brilliant work.

Given the social context when the potential of cinematic expression was still being explored, King Kong was probably an archetype of the ultimate experience in cinematic entertainment. Therefore, it deserves a distinguished place in the history of cinema. The original impact may be lost, but King Kong has the grace of a prehistoric relic, and immerses me in a dreamlike experience of epic scale. It's also a very fun movie. I greatly enjoyed this classic. Highly recommended!