Since seeing King Kong a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been wanting to articulate precisely what it was about it that I liked so much.
1. Eye candy: has to be number one, no matter how shallow that makes me sound. It had some of the most beautiful shots I’ve ever seen. The sheer beauty of the cinematography, the colour, the light and the actors swept me away
2. Naomi Watts: One of my favourite actresses. I don’t usually respond to petite blondes (who knows what crazy prejudice this is but they just give me the blahs!) but Naomi is the exception. She has an amazingly luminous quality that Jackson uses to huge success in this piece. She’s incredibly emotionally open as an actress, and is one of those rare people who does bruised and broken well, but is also very serious and disciplined in her acting, so she’s the perfect choice for Ann Darrow, managing to capture both the artificial 1930s acting style and a soul-exposing sensitivity. (Just check the icon! Isn’t she the prettiest thing ever?)
3. Adrien Brody: There’s all-round great casting in this movie but Adrien was the standout for me after Naomi. The scripting is sparse and the movie depends a lot more on visual communication than dialogue, so Brody’s perfectly delivered ‘it’s in the subtext’ line really resonates. His subtle chemistry with Naomi is well-handled, shadowed by her relationship with Kong. And hey, I’m a sucker for unassuming self-effacing heroes, especially ones with his charm!
4. Period and set design: ok, so items 2-4 count as eye candy too. But I absolutely adored the period New York scenes and the ship scenes. Jack as caged writer! Ann and her looking-glass! The total cheese of the skating scene!
5. Beauty, love and tragedy: Much has been written about the politics of King Kong and Jackson doesn’t stray from the original enough to change any of the basic principles. The white male supremacy wins. The ‘beast’ falls in love with the beauty of the invader/conqueror and is exploited for the masses. Beauty and love lose. One hell of a terrible fable. But Jackson imbues the whole film with tragedic power and dark beauty. And there were more subtleties than I expected. Kong is not the only exploited figure. Ann, Jack and the ship’s crew all fall victim to the machinations of Carl Black and in some ways Kong works as a symbol for any oppressed minority turned into spectacle.
6. Thematic work: Apart from the obvious A-plot themes, there were some other lovely threads. The journey to the island references Heart of Darkness and Carl Black is a lovely (and I suspect tongue-in-cheek) character study of the obsessive creator/film director. The loneliness and intransigence of human life are also explored.
Could have lived without the giant insects! But otherwise, much love.