POSTERS: King Kong
I’m not a fan of remakes of classic films as I’ve explained in detail here, but there’s always exceptions and the 1976 Dino DeLaurentiis produced version of King Kong remains one of my favorites. Compared to Peter Jackson’s 2005 critically acclaimed farce, I still think this film is much better. Unlike Jackson’s update, this King Kong was played by a man in suit like the Japanese Godzilla films of the time. While this one actually did a nice job of bringing Kong to life for the 70s audiences, Jackson’s Kong turned out to be a soulless mess of a movie. His Kong came off like an angry retarded baby and the extreme amount of CGI used completely sucked the human emotional impact out of the film much like a toilet being flushed. The majority of the SFX sequences were utterly ridiculous, albeit in a non funny way. It’s as if Jackson was trying to use the medium of CGI in the same way the original film used miniatures/animation to create a humorous quality. The end result was a completely misguided failure from the fans’ point of view. The actors were miscast, their characters weren’t likable and most of all there was no real believable love story as there was in the 1930s and 1970s films. Another reason I think Peter Jackson’s film missed the mark as far as remakes go is because he chose to set his film in the 1930s like the original. This just added to the massive emotionless hole the film turned out to be. I didn’t like it, in fact I hated it and I’m sure I’m not the only classic Kong fan who felt really let down by Jackson’s idiotic reimagining of such a well loved film. CGI does not a movie make.
The 1976 version stayed relatively close to the original’s plotline with some minor changes that I feel worked out great (including setting it in modern times). It starred Jessica Lange as Dwan, an up and coming model/actress and Jeff Bridges as Jack Prescott, a paleontologist who stows away on the oil ship that travels to the mysterious island where the crew first encounter Kong. Lange and Bridges made an excellent couple and their onscreen chemistry brought alot of depth to the film (the 2005 remake may have had CGI out the wazoo, but it simply didn’t have that). I especially enjoyed Jessica Lange’s portrayal of Dwan. She was a knock out in this movie and for me brought to mind someone like Marilyn Monroe with her performance. While the SFX were more primitive (pun intended) in this film, the heart and charm of the original showed through and was easy to overlook because of that.
This week’s featured furious poster for the 1976 version is also one of my most favorite promotional film images. What’s especially cool about this poster is Kong is shown standing atop the World Trade Center towers INSTEAD of on the Empire State Building. I just loved that new spin by the artists which made it more modern and helped it again stand apart from the original while keeping that over the top, epic quality.