King Kong

King Kong ★★★★

I would be fascinated to see how this played to a 1933 audience, because to a modern eye, it comes across as a scathing indictment of the incurious, arrogant nature of Western explorers. The scenes in between the explorers landing and them coming across King Kong in the jungle could be scored to the Benny Hill theme, as they bumble from one fascinating wonder to another that would change the way we view the world before opening fire in a screaming panic and throwing bombs at it. By the conclusion, the "it was beauty killed the beast" line is completely undercut by the fact that Denham has been manufacturing his Beauty and the Beast narrative from day one, well before he even knew Kong was a giant ape or could have predicted his relationship with Ann, and it comes across that he is bending reality to fit his worldview so that he doesn't have to challenge his behaviour or beliefs up to this point. All this, however, feels like a layer of irony imposed 90 years after the fact.

The spectacle is what drives the middle of this film, although it sags a little as Kong fights one massive beast after another. I was impressed how much we were able to empathise with Kong through action sequences, with little humanising touches like him playing with the T Rex's jaw or struggling against being strangled. By the end, though, this film is just bleak. Kong riddled with airplane fire and dropped from the top of the Empire State Building through absolutely no fault of his own, all while his captor waxes philosophic about his true downfall. How about YOU killed the beast, Denham, you thoughtless, greedy, arrogant prick.