15 Mar 2010

King Kong (1933) - Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Scheodsack

It is a great monster movie that is even more stunning when you remind yourself that a lot of efects were used for the first time in film history.

The playing monsters (King Kong, Dinosaurs) are not there only to roar and beat its chest, but they interact with the world and objects in it– taring apart dinosaur, grabbing and throwing away characters and doing all the things that would normally happen if you were to imagine they exist in real life, not in a film.

I noticed the masterful use of layers: often the background was a screen with action projected on it (like a film screen), midground was where stop motion action or acting took place and there were props and setting to smartly blend it all in the foreground . For instance the scene where Ann looked down how the beast was fighting with a giant snake. Ann on the rocks was a film played on screen, Kong’s and snake fight was a stop motion performance and in the foreground there were rocks where we saw captain waiting for a good moment to run to Ann .

Painted backgrounds, stop motion animation, actors performance and actual settings, Layers of images blend unnoticeably.

Attention to performance. Meg Bizineer said Friday in our Animation Workshop- it is all about a convincing performance.
So O'Brien studied the movements of gorillas in zoos and other large animals to develop his characterization of Kong as well as attending professional wrestling matches searching for ideas of how to make his creation battle the other prehistoric denizens of Skull Island. It is this attention to the performance of his models that sets O'Brien's work apart as a pinnacle of the art.

Despite the genius construction of scenes special effects and convincing performance the way it’s editted suggested the continuity of the story. For instance, where we see the beast smashing the train. It could look simply a peace of stop motion animation , but the continuous cutting to people in the train falling, lights turning down, really suggests the horrible experience taking place.

Roger Ebert marked It's simply to observe this monster movie, pointed the way toward the current era of special effects, science fiction, cataclysmic destruction, and nonstop shocks. "King Kong" is the father of "Jurassic Park," the "Alien" movies and countless other stories in which heroes are terrified by skillful special effects.

This film still does it’s magic.

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