King Kong

King Kong

King Kong (1933) produced and directed by Merian C Cooper and Ernest B Schoedsack is an action fantasy set in the year in which it was made. This black and white film follows the story of the production of a film in which the producer wants to capture the story of Kong a giant ape. When the character Cori Denham takes his film crew to a remote island the islands natives capture his leading lady, Ann, to offer her as a sacrifice to the giant ape, Kong. Although offered as a sacrifice Kong protects Ann from anything that attempts to harm her, including dinosaurs and oversized snakes, as well as those attempting to rescue her; developing a strong attachment to his victim.  After using gas bombs to knock Kong out and rescue Ann, they take him back to New York and parade him as the eighth wonder of world. Kong escapes from Denham, finds Ann  and causes destruction across the city ending up at the top of the Empire State building in what is the most iconic image from the film.

The variety of special effects, that include live action, back projection, stop motion, miniature models, glass painting, use of mirrors and slight of hand were used throughout the film and pioneered by Willis O’Brien and were considered leading edge film production at the time. However, compared to the 2005 King Kong remake, these effects are now out dated.

“advances in technology and acting have dated aspects of the production” Berardinelli (2002)

O’Brien’s use of combinations of specials effects were so new at the time that Cooper, Schoedsack and O’Brien were reluctant to share how they had created particular scenes.

“There are many details about the production of King Kong that are not available at present for publication …for whenever you ask Merian C Cooper or his associates a question that trespasses on their secret processes, they invariably reply ‘it was all done with mirrors’”  Goldner and Turner (1933)

The ground breaking use of special effects coupled with a strong story line made the film a success that resulted in remakes in both 1976 and 2005 and paved the way for other film makers.


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1-      by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

3- King Kong – How Did They Make It?” -
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