Horror, primal instincts, and a classic tale of “beauty and the beast.” The original 1933 film King Kong became the forerunner of the horror genre trend in 1930’s and 40’s pop culture, creating an entirely new concept of the ability to strike pure fear into the audience through film. With a vision of a giant ape fighting off planes on the Empire State Building and team of special effects artists way ahead of their time, King Kong became an instant hit at the box office, causing an uproar at theatres in major cities around the world and sparking movies like Godzilla and Mighty Joe Young, two films which took off from King Kong to further develop the up-and-coming ‘fantasy’ genre.
King Kong begins with a troublesome filmmaker who is looking to go on an adventure in the making of his next picture. He gets the young and beautiful blonde Ann Darrow to come along with him as his star. With a film crew, they sail off to the distant and mysterious Skull Island, rumored to contain dinosaurs and a giant ape-beast. After encountering hostile (but really just defensive) natives and falling in love with the ship-mate John, Ann is captured by the natives as the prize for the massive ape, otherwise known as King Kong. She is quickly snatched away by Kong and taken into the dinosaur-infested jungle. Through a series of fighting off dinosaurs and Ann’s newfound sweetheart, Kong grows extremely protective of and attached to Ann. However, Kong is eventually captured and sent to New York City (with nothing but the best intentions, we’re all sure). Through another series of unfortunate events, including the iconic scene on the Empire State Building fighting of fighter pilots, Kong is eventually shot to his death, preventing him from ever finding true happiness with his beloved blonde, Ann Darrow.
Though this film relies a bit too heavily on fight sequences and special effects (as they were very exciting for the time period), King Kong does hold a valuable lesson on the different trappings of true love. Not only that, the pioneer film completely redefined the horror and fantasy drama, becoming one of the first films to play at two of NYC’s major theatres simultaneously. Millions flocked to see the spectacle several times, an extremely rare thing during the Depression Era in which it was released. Although the plot was simplistic in nature, the idea, execution, and cinematography was absolutely phenomenal and astounding for the time period.
King Kong created a snowball effect, sparking a fire under young men and women to become filmmakers, actors, even zookeepers. The imaginative adventure portrayed on the silver screen in such quality and with such ingenuity seemed to put a bounce in the step of societies across the world, especially in a time when the economy continued to push the people back down into stark realism. King Kong was an instant classic and continues to be because even the primitive special effects and black and white film will never take away from a timeless story that sparked the imaginations of generations before and generations to come.