‘King Kong’ directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Shoedsack in 1933 certainly astounded their audiences when they saw a western white film crew encountering a giant gorilla on a tropical island. Astonishing amounts of effort and attention to detail that went into the picture and the fantastical, prehistoric beasts unquestionably set the bar for other upcoming special effects films; ‘first and most influential FX pictures’ (Bob McCabe, EmpireOnline).
‘King Kong’ is categorised as being a horror movie, this may be due to the ‘unknown’. Within the film we see tribes dancing along to a chant wearing face paint and grass skirts; this was Hollywood’s perception on possibly African and/or native tribes. Today we see this perception as racist as it is stereotyping somebody’s culture, however, at the time tribes and other worldly cultures hadn’t really been learnt or given much thought therefore not being racist at the time of the release.
Also in ‘King Kong’ there are numerous biblical and religious references, another convention of horror. For example, at the start of the film there is reference to an Arabic passage stating how the beauty will kill the beast. Even though Kong doesn’t mean harm; ‘a creature that in its own way wants to do the right thing’ (Roger Ebert, rogerebert,com, 2002). Also, when character Ann Darrow (played by Fay Wray) is kidnapped and each wrist is tied to a post, she seems to be in the same position of Christ on the Cross, though she hasn’t voluntarily offered herself, the tribesman have, therefore making her a sacrifice to keep the gorilla at bay.
Lastly, the filmmakers really gave ‘King Kong’ the shock value when we see close ups of people getting eaten. This may have scared audiences due to the sheer brashness of it; these people haven’t been in an accident or murdered by another human beings but instead eaten alive by our closest animal relative, suggesting that this almost-human creature is committing cannibalism.
Overall, Shoedsack and Cooper have somehow made this creature human-like but at the same time stated our differences. With Kong’s feelings towards the golden-haired Ann he is experiencing and emitting an emotion. However, when he is captured and brought to New York to be amongst the public we are shown how he instantly becomes this rash and destructive beast ‘violent clash between the primitive and the modern’ (Anon, film4.com) Therefore our last sympathies are left more with the citizens who brought this upon themselves rather than the confused King Kong.