Happy Birthday, KONG!

This is the  anniversary of a very special film. It was 79 years ago today, that the world of cinema was forever changed with the release of a film that would influence many generations of film makers to come – KING KONG (1933). The tale of Merian C. Cooper’s giant ape Kong, brought from the living museum of Skull Island to the concrete jungles of New York City, was like no other film ever made before it. The giant ape was brought to life via the then fairly new art of stop motion animation, pioneered by technician Willis O’Brien. It involves the frame by frame movement of articulated models. This is what brought Kong and the dinosaurs that inhabited Skull Island to life. It’s also what inspired a young filmgoer named Ray Harryhausen to pursue a career in stop motion effects. He even managed to train under O’Brien and helped him bring another gorilla, MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949) to life (as well as an Academy Award). Harryhausen would go on to create legendary films such as JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (1963), 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957) and the seminal giant lizard on a rampage film, THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953). This last entry went on to inspire producer Tomoyuki Tanaka and Eiji Tsuburaya in the creation of GOJIRA (1954). Tsuburaya himself, was inspired by Kong to begin a career as an effects creator as well. Not to mention how Peter Jackson was inspired by both Kong AND the Harryhausen films to become a filmmaker and go on to helm the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.

So now you can see how important Kong was, as a film. Without it, there’d be no Harryhausen films, no Godzilla franchise and no LOTR. Thank you Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Shoedsack.


One comment

  1. YES! Love him!

    I took a “Great Motion Pictures” course years ago. We all had to choose a film for the final project and explain what made it a “Great” one. The professor, meanwhile, showed “greats” throughout the semester. Needless to say, KING KONG was one. I was baffled by the choice until I watched it – attention undivided. It is now one of my favorites of all time. And he, Kong, one of the most memorable, deeply affecting characters in cinema history.

    Kudos to King Kong and to you for posting this feature, Jim! An anniversary that should be celebrated by all cinephiles!


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