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King Kong (1933)

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Author Topic: King Kong (1933)  (Read 1443 times)
Stacy Dohm
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« on: August 25, 2007, 10:34:19 pm »


As they reach a pre-determined point in the middle of the ocean, somewhere in the Indian Ocean "way west of Sumatra," Denham has promised more information about the voyage. He explains to the Skipper-Captain and his First Mate their destination to the southwest. Englehorn protests: "Well there's nothing...nothing for thousands of miles!" Denham unfolds and reveals a secret, primitive map of an uncharted island in the East Indies. "You won't find that island on any chart," Denham explains about the map's history:


That was made by the skipper of a Norwegian barque...A canoe full of natives from this island was blown out to sea. When the barque picked them up, there was only one alive. He died before they reached port, but not before the skipper had pieced together a description of the island and got a fairly good idea of where it lies.
Denham describes the island from the drawing. The main island has a long sandy peninsula, the only possible landing site or entrance through a reef. The rest of the island's shoreline has sheer, steep precipices, hundreds of feet high. A wall cuts off the base of the peninsula from the rest of the island. Denham explains that there's an ancient, monstrous wonder "that no white man has ever seen" on the mysterious island:


Denham: A wall...built so long ago that the people who live there have slipped back, forgotten the higher civilization that built it. That wall is as strong today as it was centuries ago. The natives keep that wall in repair. They need it.
Driscoll: Why?
Denham: There's something on the other side of it, something they fear.
Captain: A hostile tribe.
Denham: Did you ever hear of...Kong?
Captain: Why, yes. Some native superstition isn't it? A god or a spirit or something?
Denham: Well anyway, neither Beast nor man. Something monstrous. All powerful. Still living. Still holding that island in a grip of deadly fear. Well, every legend has a basis of truth. I tell you, there's something on that island that no white man has ever seen.
Captain: And you expect to photograph it?
Denham: If it's there, you bet I'll photograph it.
Driscoll: Suppose it doesn't like having its picture taken?
Denham: Well, now you know why I brought along those cases of gas bombs.
On the deck, Denham prepares for Ann's preliminary costume and lighting test, noticing: "Oh, you've put on the Beauty and Beast costume, eh?" Ann thinks it's the "prettiest," but is nervous about not photographing well. Denham is confident of his unknown actress in her alluring costume: "If I hadn't been sure, I wouldn't have brought you half way around the world." Denham directs her film test, shooting the film himself from behind the camera:


Well, we'll start with a profile. When I start cranking, I hold it a minute and then turn slowly toward me. You see me. You smile a little. Then you listen. And then you laugh. All right? Camera.
During the test, Denham explains why he now does the filming behind the camera after an unfortunate filming trip to Africa:


I'd have got a swell picture of a charging rhino but the cameraman got scared. The darned fool, I was right there with a rifle. Seems he didn't trust me to get the rhino before it got him. I haven't fooled with cameramen since, I do it myself.
To set the scene, Denham describes the island's mysterious presence and asks Ann to react to it:


Now Ann, in this one, you're looking down. When I start to crank, you look up slowly. You're quite calm. You don't expect to see a thing. Then you just follow my directions. All right? Camera. (Denham starts cranking.) Look up slowly, Ann. That's it. You don't see anything. Now look higher. Still higher. Now you see it. You're amazed. You can't believe it. Your eyes open wider. It's horrible, Ann, but you can't look away. There's no chance for you, Ann. No escape. You're helpless, Ann, helpless. There's just one chance, if you can scream. But your throat's paralyzed. Try to scream, Ann. Try. Perhaps if you didn't see it, you could scream. Throw your arms across your eyes and scream Ann, scream for your life!!!
Ann lets loose a blood-curtling, ear-piercing shrieking scream into the wind. Jack ominously comments on the ship's impending, mysterious voyage: "What's he think she's really gonna see?"

They reach the vicinity of the uncharted, fog-enshrouded island after making their way through the unmapped territory in the high seas. Ann wonders how they will know if it's the right one. Denham says the island will have a formation called Skull Mountain: "A mountain that looks like a skull" - a forbidding landmark for a place. A lookout reports breakers ahead. Anchor is dropped in a cove. Driscoll says grimly, "that's not breakers. It's drums!" They hear the muffled sound of drums and chanting in the distance. When the fog clears during daybreak, Skull Mountain and the wall come clearly into view exactly as described, "just like on my funny little map," Denham says.

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"All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream." - Edgar Allen Poe


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