ISN 'T IT UN-IRONICComplications Ensue
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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Saw King Kong, which was, yes, longer than necessary, but still made me cry. It felt like Peter Jackson and his crew made the movie that David O. Selznick and his crew would have loved to have made. And what struck me most was the lack of anachronism. The whole movie felt like something that could have been made in '33. And that's a good thing. Those were times people were less afraid to be sentimental. They could be sentimental without being ironic. Jackson's Kong is unironic. We're not used to that, which is maybe why I got an erroneous impression the movie flopped, even though it made north of $200 mil. It didn't get picked up by the culturati; it got shut out of the above-the-line Oscars. (It's got four noms for things like sound mixing and art direction.)

The script is an odd combination of ordinary yelling and running and screaming, and some real zingers. Not all of them are lifted from the original ("It was beauty killed the beast" is from the RKO picture). My favorite is the foreshadowing:

Jimmy (speaking of the book he's reading, Heart of Darkness): It's not an adventure story, is it, Mr. Hayes?
Mr. Hayes: No. It's not.

Anyway, I'm glad I didn't miss this one on the big screen.

PS Does anyone else think the "Old Arabian Proverb" is reminiscent of the taming of Enkidu by the harlot Shamhat?


I've been holding out for the DVD. I just feel I know the story, what's going to happen etc and I'm not too bothered about great visual effects. Should I really go to see it at the flicks?

By Blogger Danny Stack, at 5:57 AM  

I'd say yes on this one, Danny, although as a general rule I'm a DVD-preferrer myself; it's not so much that the movie relies heavily on its visual effects as its visual impact.

Reduce the spectacle and I suspect that the film's balance will tip and a certain lack of narrative tightness will start to be apparent.

Merian C Cooper took the famous spider pit sequence out of the original because it went too far off the narative spine; Jackson puts it in, and lots more besides. They're all great sequences, and worth seeing. But I'd love, just as an exercise, to see Jackson's movie cut to conform to Cooper's edit.

By Blogger Stephen Gallagher, at 6:34 AM  

It's easy to say the movie got shafted. The point is: This film was one hour longer than it should have been - No Matter What. It was repititious. Every sequence was exactly the same as the one before... oh, what now... bugs! oh what now... natives... it was weak at best. And we should not give kudos just because it's sentimental or makes us cry. The film is not worthy of "great" film status. And as writers, directors, actors, and filmmakers, and as the audience, We should not give it that award.

Honestly. Can we please start evaluating films as they should be evaluated... apart from the status quo, but, more importantly, if they do not work, let's call a bomb, a bomb... come ON! (I aplogize for incorrect spelling.)

By Blogger Brandon, at 7:17 AM  

Here's a repost of the comment that I either didn't post properly the first time or that vanished from Blogger's databases:

"First post!"

Just kidding! I was saying that I think you give Peter Jackson too much credit in your blog entry. I think we all admire his skills in bringing lush fantasyworlds to the screen, but if we all agree that the principal role of a director is to tell a good story, then I don't feel that he does that well.

I really felt that King Kong was too long and I can only imagine that the DVD release is going to have another 40-90 minutes of extra footage! It's not the length I object to as much as it is the fact that the story doesn't go very far in the 10 minutes it takes to see the CG animals duke it out amongst themselves or attack our protagonists in the grossest ways possible.

I feel the same way about the first Lord of the Rings movie. I can't comment on the other two since I decided not to reinvest another half-day in both of the sequels.

These are highly-acclaimed movies by the audience, though, so I get the feeling that my inclination towards more subtle and nuanced forms of storytelling may just be a style preference.

Great blog! Keep on keepin' on! ;)
- tonyboy

By Blogger T, at 2:18 AM  

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