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KING KONG

Building A Shrewder Ape
Getting to the particular Kong at the center of Jackson's remake was of paramount concern to filmmakers, and all involved had very strong ideas about how this Kong would be brought to the screen.

Philippa Boyens explains, "Very early on, right from the word ‘go,' Peter wanted to make sure that the character of Kong was not a monster and was, in fact, a large silverback gorilla who happens to be 25 feet tall and 8,000 pounds. This Kong was not a monster and was not to be anthropomorphized.”

Jackson describes his central character: "We assumed that Kong is the last surviving member of his species. He had a mother and a father and maybe brothers and sisters, but they're dead. He's the last of the huge gorillas that live on Skull Island, and the last one when he goes…there will be no more. He's a very lonely creature— absolutely solitary. It must be one of the loneliest existences you could ever possibly imagine. Every day, he has to battle for his survival against very formidable dinosaurs on the island, and it's not easy for him. He's carrying the scars of many former encounters with dinosaurs. I'm imagining he's probably 100 to 120 years old by the time our story begins. And he has never felt a single bit of empathy for another living creature in his long life; it has been a brutal life that he's lived.”

The screenwriters began to fashion a mythology for Kong that dovetailed with the original 1933 concept, but also gave them a wider playing field for their special silverback gorilla. The Skull Islanders have long deified the giant gorilla species, though none can even remember how this came to be. It is simply accepted that at regular intervals throughout the year, a woman is lashed to the sacrificial altar and offered up to the last remaining ape-god; the gorilla is summoned, and he snatches the girl and leaves.

Once Kong returns to his killing ground, he quickly tires of the terrified girl and kills her. When the presence of the strangers from the Venture—most notably, Ann—triggers the islanders to offer this intriguing, blond creature during a special ceremony, Kong's Pavlovian response kicks in; he is summoned and rushes away with the offering.

But Ann is different than the other girls and is far from accepting of her lot. She fights, she flees, she challenges her captor—and at the point where it seems that he will soon kill her, she launches into a demonstration of her skill set obtained from her career in vaudeville (a tough crowd is a tough crowd, whether in New York or the jungles of a no-longer-lost island). She fascinates Kong long enough that he starts to view her as something more than prey; his curiosity is piqued. The solitary warrior's existence is, momentarily, no longer as painful.

Even with this more detailed story of the beginnings of the relationship between Kong and Ann, the filmmakers were adamant that Kong always remain a gorilla—an imposing, frightening, brutal beast governed by the laws of nature and animal behavior and one whose, once he allows another living creature to soften his predatory nature and introduce vulnerability, eventual downfall is assured.

There was never any question what process would lead to the creation of Kong— he was always meant to be a wholly computer-generated creation. Yet after the groundbreaking, combined use of computer generation and motion capture (mo-cap) that led to The Lord of the Rings character Gollum, Jackson and his team began to explore a more advanced method of fashioning the Eighth Wonder of the World…and it would all begin with the involvement of the same actor who rendered Gollum such a mercurial, compelling and even (at times) sympathetic character: Andy Serkis.

"Certainly Kong himself was beyond anything we'd ever done before—just the huge complexity of what Kong is and what he has to be has be

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