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King Kong

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[Mod's note: Split from another thread. - SN]

I called it primitivist because it glorified the savage (the ape) and potrayed wealthy New Yorkers as evil. Consider the essential story. We have the stereotypical "evil" rich capitalist who in his "evil" way wants to make money of the ape. We have a "good" poor blonde sympathetic to the ape. The ape gets mad and climbs the Empire State Building. In the end the ape dies and somehow the "evil capitalists" are to blame.

It glorified barbarity at the expense of civilization.

For me, a movie which does not devote itself to the wrong philosophy and has a good "sense of life", is good. But when the entire point of the movie is condemnation of the human mind, it gets very tiring.

Did we watch the same movie? (I mean this sarcastically and literally - I watch the 2005 version). First off, the capitalist that you mentioned (the filmmaker I take it - Jake Black's character) wasn't protrayed as "evil", in fact in the begininning I felt sorry for him. Secondly, even when Black was on the island trying to get the ape home (in most of his scenes), it was more comical than "evil". Thirdly, the ape wasn't protrayed as "savage"; the idea was that he was misunderstood. He did a lot to establish that he wasn't your ordinary ape. And lastly, I wouldn't say the entire movie was devoted to "the condemmation of the human mind". Do you have specific scenes or dialogue to illustrate this?

Now, I suppose that your interpretation could sort of be made, but I don't think that was the main idea of the movie.

Was this post nasty? Sorry if it was. I just thought the movie was well done.

Edited by softwareNerd

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I also disagree with the notion that King Kong is a "primitivist" film. Probably the main reason why it is not a primitivist film is its depiction of the savage tribe on Skull Island that worshipped Kong.

If King Kong were a truly primitivist film, it would've depicted the savage tribe as some kind of noble people not unlike the Native American Sioux Indians. But that is not the case. In the film, the savage tribe is depicted as a truly horrifying pack of almost feral creatures.

Edited by Fenriz

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(note, I am refering to the new Peter Jackson version, not the old one)

I called it primitivist because it glorified the savage (the ape) and potrayed wealthy New Yorkers as evil. Consider the essential story. We have the stereotypical "evil" rich capitalist who in his "evil" way wants to make money of the ape. We have a "good" poor blonde sympathetic to the ape. The ape gets mad and climbs the Empire State Building. In the end the ape dies and somehow the "evil capitalists" are to blame.

It glorified barbarity at the expense of civilization.

What is King Kong? It is partly escapism, partly thrill and adventure for its own sake. You can make the point that the adventure is not Romantic, since members of the team get killed by many giant dinosaurs and amazing creatures. That does not change the fact that the scenes in which they died were among the most impressive I have seen on screen in a long time. The action squenceson skull lsland were significantly better then any number of car chases I have seen in multiple films recently, because it was done very well and with genuine tension and excitment.

Kong was a characted whom you could respect. As well as great physical strength displayed in vanquishing the dinosaurs, he also wants to protect that which he values (Ann). I suppose that you could Objectivley argue that Kong has no rights which would stop humans from putting him on display, and I would not claim that he does. I would say that Kong is a character whom the (movie) audience can clealry tell is no longer at his prime in New York. Carl has to have Kong's arms raised artificially, the audience (In New York) don't realise this and yet are still impressed. The people in the theater are being given something that is so small scale, so unimpressive, so insulting, to what Kong was able to do with his freedom on the island.

And I would argue that the movie makes it clear that mankind, or as you put it "Evil Capitalists" are not to blame for the fall of Kong. The last line is, "It was beuaty that killed the beast". Kong was so consumed by his desire to protect what he valued that he got in the way of everyone else, and did not mind destroying the property of all the people of New York. His death, while necessary, is certainly not something that is done without the context of Kong's more admirable qualities. You may argue that it is naturalistic to do it like that, I would argue that it is good cinema.

I doubt Ayn Rand would have ever written anything like King Kong (and I don't know her opinion on the 1933 movie). I also don't care what she would say about the movie because the key thing is that I liked it and I still can approach the rest of my life outside of the cinema with a rational self interested view. You of course have a right to not like the movie, but my only question is why you are unable to seperate the fantasy world and of the context inside the movie from the realities outside the theater, and why you must let the movie cause you discomfort and pain as a film because of its bad philosophy.

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I quite enjoyed the film on a jnumber of points.

1- The portrayal of the tribe of (realistically savage) savages was far from the usual treatment afforded by mainstream PC films and apart from the construction of a massive wall to keep themselves semi-safe their society was shown as such primitive Hunter-Gatherer tribes would , and have, existed.

2- The character played by Jack Black was not portrayed as evil - more as uncaring/unsympatheitc (at least until the end), but since the only person in the film to get close to Kong and survive (and thus to find anything about Kong to regard as other than animalistic) is Miss Darrow it is not to be expected of any of the other characters to see Kong as anything other than either a threat or a resourse.

3- The effects and realisation of the creatures of Skull Island were superb and another credit to Weta Workshops, and Andy Serkis has done another fantastic job bringing a CGI character to life. I will have to get the DVD when it becomes available to ensure I can watch the running battles again so that I can try to catch all that I missed the first time at the cinema.

Overall I loved the movie and thought it was a great piece of escapist movie-making.

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I find this movie to be an amazing action and, dare I say, love film.

The movie touches upon, and emphasises, the point that the thirst for wealth and power can corrupt many. The main example of this is obviously Jack Black's character.

Black's character would have done anything to make his film. He tricked friends, cared very little when comrades were killed, and put many lives on the line without giving it much thought.

This film (obviously the 2005 version), didn't unfairly portray his character as an "evil" man, because the things he did are unfortunately pretty common when it comes to someone bent on achieving something (I touch upon this point because of the original quote from Tommyedison "We have the stereotypical "evil" rich capitalist who in his "evil" way wants to make money of the ape". I am an actor, and have been working in the Hollywood scene for quite a few years now, and it's not pretty. Far too many of the working, or even non-working, people in the business (being everything from actors, to directors, to casting directors, to small assistants) are very corrupt, slimey, and will walk all over you and your life just for a small personal gain. If I didn't love the art of acting so much, I would never put up with the things I have to put up with.

I became very emotional when King Kong was killed. Even though he is labeled as an animal, you can't help but feel sorry for him after you learn more about his life and personality; he is very determined to protect that which he values (even if it takes putting his own life on the line, which I personally respect); he is the last of his race, and still lives among his ancestors' bones; he actually falls in love and directs most of his actions towards being with the last thing he has on this earth; below humans, he seems to be the smartest and strongest living creature on the planet, capable of having values and sticking to them. I give him more rights then an animal, because of those facts.

I just wanted to touch upon a few points that I couldn't help but agree with as they came up in the movie.

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I blogged about the movie here.

I really find it difficult to believe that everyone found all this "political" stuff in the movie. I detected no politics whatsoever. The savage tribe was a plot device, meant to emphasize the brutal surroundings from which Kong originated, much as the dinosaurs, giant bugs, etc. did.

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I really find it difficult to believe that everyone found all this "political" stuff in the movie. I detected no politics whatsoever. The savage tribe was a plot device, meant to emphasize the brutal surroundings from which Kong originated, much as the dinosaurs, giant bugs, etc. did.

I enjoyed the movie. As far as the "PC" crowd's comments go, I think it's just a psychological confession on their part - somewhere down in their subconscious, they realize that all cultures are not made equal and their favorite 3d world nightmare is a fair bit like the savages in the movie - and the PC people hate the fact that there is not the slightest concession made on the part of the basically civilized men who use machine guns in response to the savagery. There is no hint of admiration for the savages, no murky self-doubt on the part of the men working to retrieve their shipmates - they simply kill the natives in response to who they are.

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I really enjoyed this movie. Although I approached it as an amusing flick, I went away thinking hard about the theme as stated in the movie, "Oh, no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast."

Kong was killed by his desire to protect the thing he valued most. He pursued something good in his world and was destroyed as a result of his action to pursue it- because he loved the good that he found. In this way, it's horribly tragic- pursuit of beauty leads to destruction.

I haven't fully thought through this, but it's a quality that I respond to very emotionally in films. I can't think of anything I consider more tragic than someone being destroyed by his love of good/beauty/virtue.

Two other places (there are more, but these are the two I thought of right after the movie) come to mind where I've found this idea explored. One is the movie Edward Scissorhands (and probably other Tim Burton movies. He seems interested in the idea of an innocent faced with a world that tries to destroy it). The other is the character of Dominique in The Fountainhead. She (for quite a while) doesn't believe that good can survive in the world, specifically because it is good. There are huge differences here, but I think that King Kong is an illustration of this belief.

I don't think that Jack Black's character was a stab at capitalism. He saw greatness and believed that if he stripped it of its power and presented it as a slave, it would still maintain its value. It was not just greatness he wanted to show the world- it was his dominion of it. He was content with the faked presentation of the beast's fierceness and the awe it inspired in others. I'm not completely sure how to take this character- I suppose that the discussion of Heart of Darkness in the movie sets him up as a sort of crazed explorer who, in his exploration of savagery, becomes savage himself.

Oh hell- I liked it for the action, and came away with something to think about it. It's worth seeing for both.

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King Kong's journey from Skull Island to New York City taught a lesson. Specifically, it taught a lesson to other characters in the movie, and in doing so hopefully taught the same lesson to the audience.

King Kong represents a remnant in man. Man has always had the ability to value beauty and happiness and to want to protect it, he just hasn't always known how to do it. It's unfortunate that I feel I have to say this in this forum, but I do not mean to imply that humans possess instincts of any kind - only that when acting on blind ignorance they can behave like animals. The final line in the movie "beauty killed the beast" represents a very fundamental choice made by every civilized man in the movie, major and minor, to recognize his higher nature and pledge allegience to it, implicitly renouncing any impulses to the contrary.

This is what was being conveyed at the beginning of the movie when even Miss Darrow steals an apple to feed a desperate hunger, despite her knowledge of right and wrong. When Jack Black's character saves her from the angry justice of the shopkeeper by flashing a nickle, he is demonstrating civilization's power to overcome more primitive reactions and to remain civil even in the midst of a Great Depression. Miss Darrow learns this lesson and tacitly admits to it by commenting on the incident.

Soon after Ann Darrow is offered to him, King Kong takes her to a secluded place in the jungle and finally releases her from his grasp. Since she has passed out, he attempts to wake her up so that he may enjoy her. Only once he realizes that this is futile does she recover naturally and proceed to entertain him. This is a dramatization of all that evolution entails; the discovery of the difference between a perceptual and a conceptual conciousness; between forcing beauty and greatness or allowing it to occur naturally. Twice during the movie, once all of the excitement has died down, Miss Darrow shares this point by admiring the sunset with him.

Unwittingly, primitive beings destroy the beauty and joy in life in a frantic attempt to protect it. There are many signs of this throughout the movie up until the point that Kong finally learns this lesson and allows himself to be shot down from the Empire State Building. Many mental health professionals who deal with addiction and dependency recognize a stage in recovery where a profound sense of loss and grief for the old ways will occur within the addict. It is not that the person still believes those ways to be better, but it is a bittersweet recognition of how much was squandered and how frightening the unknown future, devoid of the easy way out, can be. Kong was a living breathing representation of this bad old way, and when he finally realized it and understood it's permanence within his very identity as a wild animal, he resigned himself to death for the sake of what he loved. It is very telling that immediately after this the heroic Jack Driscoll assends to the top of the building to claim his rightful place.

The only character that doesn't actually learn anything throughout the movie, but by example does a great amount of teaching, is Adrien Brody's character - the playwright Jack Driscoll. When on the boat he respectfully understands Mr. Hayes' explanation of the young shipmate's theft of his pen, this lesson is being taught. In the dialouge with Miss Darrow where he tells her that she needn't be nervous around him even though she respects his writing immensly, the lesson of Kong is being understood (himself a representation of civilization in this instance). Presumably, this knowledge is what allowed her to face Kong with the bravery she showed later on.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this perspective is late in the film when Mr. Driscoll explains to an assistant in the theatre that by bringing Kong back to New York Jack Black "is destroying everything he loves and doesn't even realize it." What many will think this means is that he is destroying Kong and the mystery and appetite for adventure that Black loves so much, but what is really meant is that bringing Kong back will destroy New York. The rest of the movie is devoted to showing it.

Admittedly, when I watched them first trap Kong and saw Miss Darrow's opposition to it, I jeered her as being a bleeding-hearted liberal willing to sell her fellow men down the river for the sake of an animal (pardon the Heart Of Darkness/Apocalypse Now reference but I couldn't help it. Perhaps I should have said "cast her fellow men out to sea emptyhanded" since that's what they were actually facing). But upon thinking about it, what I realized is that she wasn't opposing Kong's capture for his sake, but for the sake of his captors, as well as her own. At this point the movie tells us that King Kong and New York can not coexist; that the "laws" of the jungle and the laws of man are incompatable. A bit earlier, Miss Darrow willingly left the arms of the beast even though she respected it's power and experienced it's tenderness. For the sake of her happiness as a human, and not as a savage, she refused to give the beast what it wanted: her. Unlike the savages, who had feared and appeased the beast for god knows how long (their appearance being a visualization of just how ugly fear and ignorance can be), she faced it and tamed it, but plead to keep it in it's place.

There are many more examples of this lesson throughout this very well-integrated movie (the old male friend of Miss Darrow from Vaudeville is a philosophical gold mine), but I will bite my tounge so that I will be able to show off in later posts - should there be any replies :thumbsup:

I must say that I approached this movie with alot of skepticism and had the same basic attitude that was expressed in the quote of this thread's original post, but upon seeing it, I will be eagerly adding it to my "Movies worth Owning" list.

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