Thursday, December 22, 2005

Peter Jackson's yukky King Kong

An outing today with S2 to see King Kong, which I enjoyed more than he did. It doesn't augur well for its box office that what must be its target audience (9 - 13-year-olds) is going to find it too long and just a bit beyond them. Not that it lacks in the ingredients to please said targets. There's plenty of action most of it spectacularly shot and great to watch; there's what must be one of the most primally frightening scenes I have ever witnessed (during the attack of the bugs and nasty sucking things, you could see people squirming in their seats - I was, and S2 jumped at one point swearing that something was crawling up his leg). However, as S2 said, there's too much yucky stuff (mind you, he says the same about James Bond).

The yucky stuff consists of the relationship between Ann (lone female) and Kong. This heroine doesn't spend the entire film in a state of apoplexy that leaves only her lungs and speech organs working well enough to scream. No, this time Ann's is the moral viewpoint of the film, which spends a lot of time on her developing relationship with the Beast. Probably the central scene of Jackson's Kong is when, after the fight with the dinosaurs brought about because she has run away from him, he takes her to the highest point of the island and, sulking, gazes at the sunset. She does too, and speaks the only word she uses directly to him, "Beautiful". They make up. So when this scene is evoked at the end, just before Kong falls to his death, it is not just for the jerking of the tears, but to underline what was implicit in the original film and explicit here: only the noble can see Beauty and be further enobled by it.

The contrast between the noble and the ignoble is very strong in this film. The bug scene I mentioned above is, in fact, one of the central images of the film. Most of the humans in it behave with as much breadth of vision as the insests after their next meal. On one level, this is literally the case: the story is set during the depression, and the next meal is, for many people, the biggest question in their lives. But it is their hunger for sensation that fatally demeans them and sends them crawling over the prone Kong to get a better shot.

This is virtually the final image of the film and it is a sobering one to leave with. The nearby Burger King is advertising a monstrously-sized burger with the caption, "For the Kong inside all of us". Precisely.

No comments: