Writer: 1933: James Ashmore Creelman, Ruth Rose....
2005: Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens
Director: 1933: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
2005: Peter Jackson
Budget: 1933: $670,000 (estimated)
2005: $207,000,000 (estimated)
Gross: 1933: $1,700,000
i finally got around to seeing the original 1933 version of King Kong and had planned on just discussing that film. however, i really couldn't do that without also talking about peter jackson's 2005 version.
i will begin by saying that i really liked peter jackson's film. i know there were a lot of people who felt that it was too long and had other problems, but i didn't feel that way at all. i saw a late showing of the film and even though i was tired and the movie didn't end till probably close to 1am i was awake and engaged the whole time and i wouldn't have cut any of it. also, after having now seen the original 1933 film i feel even stronger about my appreciation for jackson's film and its long running time.
okay, now lets talk about the original. while i think some peoples viewing of the 2005 film was colored by their thoughts and appreciation of the 1933 film, i think i went into the 1933 film with expectations based on what i had seen in the peter jackson version. i am not talking about special effects obviously, but rather the actual story. while the general story if very similar between the two films, the 2005 version feels much more complete and deep, whereas the original comes across like a good, fun summer thriller/monster movie.
where this is most evident is in the relationship between kong and ann darrow, the woman he cares about and the reason he is eventually killed (remember, "it was beauty that killed the beast"). in peter jackson's version there is quite a bit of time spent on the relationship between these two characters and we see as darrow's (in this case naomi watts) character slowly begins to feel for the giant ape. whereas in the 1933 version the time on the island is just one Kong action set piece after another and darrow (faye raye in this one) is always just scared and screaming. even when we get back to new york she has very little sympathy for the chained Kong and is only afraid he may break loose.
like i said, i went in to the original movie with the peter jackson version in my mind and so i had certain expectations that might not be fair. however, looking at it as unbiased as i can i do still feel that it was lacking depth and moved too fast. i mean driscoll tells darrow he loves her after knowing her for what felt like 20 minutes. faye raye was beautiful, but still...
i don't want to sound like i didn't like the 1933 film though, because i did. like i said earlier, it is a very good summer blockbuster with the focus on the action and the special effects with story taking a back seat. and speaking of those special effects, i was completely impressed with how good they were (for the time of course). also, while the peter jackson's Kong had incredible special effects, it didn't always work, and the cgi was obvious at times.
the original King Kong was a huge hit at the time, but is now 74 years old. and, while the 2005 film made over 200 million dollars, it also cost over $200 million and therefor barely broke even (and i don't know if that number includes advertising and promotion money). i wouldn't hesitate to recommend you see both films, and apreciate the original for its pure thrills and influence, and the remake for its ode to the original while expending and creating a much fuller and more complete movie.