King Kong (1933)

Being the first of its kind, King Kong (1933) is one of the most iconic and important films of all time, capturing the grand epic of towering monsters that inspired several remakes, Godzilla and contemporary films such as Cloverfield.

The story, in which I'm sure most are familiar with, features a crew's voyage to a mysterious island where huge prehistoric animals dwell, including the gigantic gorilla type creature that is King Kong. As King Kong becomes infatuated by Ann Darrow, the crew are able to bring the 'beast' back to the shores of America where he unleashes havoc.

Special effects animator Willis O'Brien was responsible for bringing the eighth wonder of the world alive, using stop frame animation with miniature models. The animation is indeed captivating featuring some of the finest examples in model stop frame animation that is profoundly iconic to this day. The intricate fight scenes of King Kong with several prehistoric dinosaurs is masterful with the technical practices of the time, not to mention the famous scene with King Kong atop of the Empire State building.

Another aspect that stood out for me, was the great use of layers in particular shots of the island being reminiscent to that of the Lost World. Not only with its creatures and Amazonian atmosphere, but also with background, midground and foreground elements adding to the wealth and depth of the scene, often each layer would comprise of stop frame animation of the huge creatures or to live action of the actions making for a complete scene.

Intriguingly, a scene of giant spiders devouring the fallen crew members was cut during the initial filming. Lost to this day, it remains unknown as to whether the footage will see the light of day again.

Overall, King Kong's significance in influencing and advancing techniques in film and special effects remains as influential as ever. It will undoubtedly remain as one of the all time greats where its stop motion animation techniques still hold an admirable charm to this day.


tutorphil said...

I couldn't help but think of your Unit 2 project today - especially, the fog-enshrouded dinosaur in the swamp - and yes, technically, all those layers and composite effects.... breathtaking!

Leo Tsang said...

Also the composition of the tree log used as a bridge in the image above reminded me a lot of the tree bridge in the Lost World - and my many attempts to capture it!

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