Kong’s Fight with Dinosaurs
All the King Kong films contain scenes of Kong fighting to defend his new bride from some of the other giant denizens of Skull Island showing Kong’s protective feelings towards Ann as well as his prowess. In 1933 this scene involved Kong battling a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a giant snake and a pterodactyl. In 1976, there was less action and Kong’s sole rival (apart from humans) was the giant snake. Peter Jackson’s film upped the ante with not one but three Tyrannosaurus Rex’s and a swarm of large bat like creatures.
Kong’s stop-motion fight with the dinosaurs in 1933 was a remarkable improvement on other dinosaur stop-motion fights that were popular at the time such as in The Lost World (Biodrowski 2009). His battle with the Tyrannosaurus involved both wrestling and rolling over in a 2 minute and 44 second fight scene, ending with Kong cracking open the dinosaur’s jaw prompting an outpouring of dark blood. The 1933 film featured three dinosaurs dying at Kong’s arms in three separate scenes helping Cooper show Kong as an all-conquering monster to be feared.
This was not the case in 1976, which only features a disappointing and less action oriented scene of ape-suited Rich Baker wrestling with a giant snake on the floor (Daigle 2011). It is possible that the choice of technology in 1976 limited the possibility of dinosaurs appearing as convincingly as Kong however it could also be the change in focus to a more romantic story line and the lack of needing to show off Kong’s fighting powers – he even struggles with the snake.
King Kong 2005 was in many ways truer to the original and Peter Jackson took advantage of CGI to create many realistic looking dinosaurs, improving on the original King Kong and containing enough dinosaurs to overrun Jurassic Park (Scott 2005) – previously we are shown a CGI heavy scene showing the adventurers being trampled on and chased by a herd of brontosauri and velocerraptors, respectively. Jackson also opted to have not one but three Tyrannosaurus-Rex’s fight Kong simultaneously which could have been a necessary challenge for a Kong famous for being able to beat a sole T-Rex. The CGI fight scenes were particularly complex with the Gorilla style Kong pulling off many acrobatics whilst occasionally juggling Ann with his feet. Some argue that the breakthrough of digital special effects, such as in Jurassic Park, have led to large-scale action-attractions playing a bigger part in these effects-driven films today (Lavik 2009). Also Collins et al. (1993) speak of the trend of films becoming increasingly visceral, kinetic, fast-paced, and increasingly reliant on special effects, increasingly fantastic. The T-Rex fight scene in 2005 lasts 6 minutes, 28 seconds and helped the film earn its action genre tag. Moreover for the first time we see Kong deliberately put himself in real danger for Ann, showing characteristics of the archetypal hero. Ann is clearly grateful and enamoured with Kong by the end of this fight scene, earlier than in the previous films. This affection from Ann further helps establish the audiences emotional response in Kong as Smith (1994, p.42) states “With allegiance we go beyond understanding by evaluating and responding emotionally to the traits and emotions of the character in context of the narrative situation”. Again, it is hard to see how this latest scene and focus would have been possible with the previous technologies and it is doubtful that taking the previous approaches would have been compelling, given today’s standards in technology and story-telling as well as the general awareness of King Kong’s history.