King Kong (1933)

“King Kong” is a tale told with such singular vision, such strength of purpose, such primal thrust, that it’s astonishing to read into the production of the film and see just how complicated, conflicting, and scattershot it was. The special effects work is absolute genius, but in terms of the concept, script, and filming, it was a lot more extended and crazy than I’d have thought.

In many ways it feels more fable than anything else, the “beauty and the beast” theme emphasised so much, the captivating fantasy of Skull Island, the contemplations on mankind’s ambition, arrogance, and relationship with nature. The climax feels like a powerful, inevitable, organic conclusion to a very purposeful story.

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That story is told with such visual prowess for the time, it’s no wonder that imagery from the film still reverberates through pop culture nearly a century later. It’s a stunning piece of work. It’s not flawless – a lot of the acting is very wooden, it sags heavily in the second half, and some effects aged better than others – but it’s still truly stunning and captivating. I give it four shackles, and a missing insect attack sequence.

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