Fig. 1. King Kong Poster
King Kong was produced not too long after Fritz Lang’s Metropolis in 1927 however the Great Depression had struck many nations at the end of the 1920s. This was immediately absorbed into films like it does with any other cultural shock, like how German Expressionism reflected elements of the aftermath of WWI, the Great Depression was a major influence for future films.
“When King Kong debuted during the rock-bottom of the Depression, it gave people what they really wanted to see: a giant ape giving Wall Street a thrashing. (Its first reel couldn't have been more resonant by showing the urban soup lines, then Ann Darrow on the street without a dime and nearly passing out from hunger.)” (Bourne, 2006)
Fig. 2. Jungle
“Neither the story nor the cast gains more than secondary importance, and not even close. Technical aspects are always on top. The technicians' two big moments arrive in the island jungle, where Kong and other prehistoric creatures reign, and in New York where Kong goes on a bender.” (Bigelow, 1933)
The entire film takes place within three environments; the modern city, the ship and the jungle. The modern city and jungle both fill their roles as the light and dark environments that contain King Kong and mankind respectively. Both are jungles of their own kind and it can be said that they also contain dangers of their own kind as well. Although the ship doesn’t fit into a category of jungle it still holds one theme common within all three, tight space. The jungle has its many trees, the city is crowded with buildings and the ship itself is a cramped space; these combined add to the sense of making King Kong seem bigger.
Fig. 3. City
So in conclusion King Kong is a film that explores how a film can be suggestive with its production design. It combines a range of techniques that build up a unique world of its own.
“From this moment, King Kong picks up the pace and becomes a thrill ride with a special effects extravaganza--techniques and visuals that had never appeared before on film. Of course the miniatures with stop-motion animation create unforgettable clashes between Kong and a plethora of prehistoric dinosaurs, but it doesn't stop there. Included among the cornucopia of effects and techniques are: matte paintings combined with live action, rear screen photography, and multi-layered miniature backgrounds. At times a single frame contains a combination of 5-6 effects alone!” (Nesbit, 2006)
Here Nesbit explains that the use of techniques like matte painting and layered backgrounds is what helped the story seem so appealing. These techniques are still used today so it shows how ground breaking they were at the time.
Bourne, M. (2006) DVDJournal.com At: http://www.dvdjournal.com/quickreviews/k/kingkong33.q.shtml (Accessed on: 21.11.11)
Bigelow, J. (1933) Variety At: http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117792322?refcatid=31 (Accessed on: 21.11.11)
Nesbit, J. (2006) Old School Reviews At: http://oldschoolreviews.com/rev_30/king_kong_1933.htm (Accessed on: 21.11.11)
Fig. 1. Cooper and Schoedsack (1933) King Kong Poster At: http://www.classichorrorcampaign.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/kingkong33-poster.jpg (Accessed on: 21.11.11)
Fig. 2. Jungle (1933) From: King Kong Directed by: Cooper and Schoedsack [film still] USA: RKO Radio Pictures At: http://chillingscenesofdreadfulvillainy.blogspot.com/2010/11/pictures-and-posters-of-king-kong-1933.html (Accessed on: 21.11.11)
Fig. 3. City (1933) From: King Kong Directed by: Cooper and Schoedsack [film still] USA: RKO Radio Pictures At: http://chillingscenesofdreadfulvillainy.blogspot.com/2010/11/pictures-and-posters-of-king-kong-1933.html (Accessed on: 21.11.11)