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King Kong (1933)

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Author Topic: King Kong (1933)  (Read 1443 times)
Stacy Dohm
Superhero Member
Posts: 4565

« on: August 25, 2007, 09:10:29 pm »

Kong terrorizes a miniature projected Cabot hiding in a cave under the cliff's edge.

Miniature projection reversed the rear projection technique allowing full-sized actors to appear on the miniature set. In one memorable sequence Bruce Cabot, the male lead, hides in a cave just below the top of a cliff. The Kong model reaches over the edge of the cliff to grope for him in the cave. Cabot was actually filmed earlier in a full sized cave, then projected from the rear onto a small screen just beyond the mouth of the cave on the miniature set. As the modelers photographed each frame of Kong's actions they moved the film of Cabot ahead one frame also, giving the illusion of a small man hiding from an enormous ape.

In addition, to rear and miniature projection, an improved form of optical processing, using a blue screen behind actors to allow them to be matted into other footage, was used with Kong. Variations on these techniques were used in almost every monster film until the advent of computerized image processing in the 1990's.

Also a number of full-sized props were used including an articulated eight foot long ape hand in which Fay Wray was photographed and a gigantic head and chest which was used to show actors being crunched in Kong's jaws. The latter footage was so graphic that it was removed from the picture before release in 1933 and was only restored recently to video copies.

The success of Kong was not purely based on technique, though. The motion picture's story was just as strong as it's special effects. O'Brien was able to give the mechanical puppet a personality with which audiences were able to identify. The giant ape's gentle fascination with Fay Wray's character provides the centerpiece to the picture: a tragic, at least for Kong, retelling of Beauty and the Beast. As one character at the end of the film relates, as he stands next to the body of the creature which has just been blasted from the top of the Empire State Building, "It wasn't the planes that got him, it was Beauty killed the Beast."
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