Thursday, December 15, 2005

 

Talking To Myself

posted by Corey Reid

Okay, so obviously I've seen Jackson's new version of King Kong. I'm going to have a lot of thoughts about this picture, as the original is pretty much my favourite film of all time, and I think it's interesting to compare the differences between the pictures.

What struck me first about the two films and their differences was the final famous line.

"No, it wasn't the airplanes that got him. It was Beauty killed the Beast."

In the original, Denham delivers this line to a police lieutenant standing next to him. In Jackson's Denham is alone and speaks to himself.

Which is weird. Says me. People don't do that in the real world, only in movies.

Partly this comes from the built-up "movie reality" that has accrued over the last seventy years of film-making that audiences accept nowadays (which one might argue derives from the old theatre tradition of "asides"), but partly it points to a hollowness in Jackson's picture.

In the original, Denham's line is as natural and perfect as can be. The theme of Beauty and the Beast has been established from the very beginning of the film, reinforced throughout, and Denham's response to the lieutenant's remark about the airplanes is simply his character reinforcing that notion. It wraps up the story for us and in a way tells us why we've been watching, but it does so within a context that grows organically out of the world of the movie.

Jackson mostly eschews the "Beauty and the Beast" motif until Denham's appearance on stage in New York. Of course it's present, but by no means to the degree in which it is in the original. THIS film is much more about the relationship between THIS girl and THAT monkey, as opposed to the more symbolic representations of the first film.

Likewise, Denham simply disappears for the final act of Jackson's film, whereas in the original he follows Kong to the rooftops, and then works with the police to track him and eventually bring in the airplanes. He's not accomplishing much, but he's present. And so he can speak with a police lieutenant. He can be recognized by the crowd around the body.

Denham doesn't have such a comfortable place next to Kong's body in Jackson's film. He's truly alone here, isolated in the crowd, anonymous and indistinguishable from anybody else. He's not bigger than life. And yet Jackson can't keep that brash, confident line out of his picture, and so we get this contrived, artificial moment that draws a fond smile because of its reference of the old favourite, but it obviously doesn't quite work here, and only serves to remind us that we're watching a remake, not a personal vision.

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