Maybe it’s because of the week I’ve had, but I did enjoy the extreme violence in King Kong, which I saw last night.
The fight between Kong and not one but three T-Rexes was bone-crunchingly fabulous. The bit with the giant cockroaches and worms was probably the most disturbing scene ever put in a 12A rated film. Truly, Peter Jackson still hasn’t forgotten his schlock roots.
But all that is to somewhat misrepresent the film, which was also one of the most touching and romantic pieces of cinema I’ve seen since, well, Lord of the Rings. Kong isn’t presented as a monster at all really, just a very big, somewhat depressed, ape. Indeed all the characters are given much greater emotional depth, with the exception of the aboriginals.
Is it racist? The case for the prosecution is that it doesn’t have any black faces in its initial scenes of depression-era New York (true, apart from a couple of entertainers), that the aboriginals are one-dimensional savages and that Kong himself is a black stereotype who can’t be civilised and rapaciously pursues blond white women. The last point I simply don’t accept as Kong is no more a black man than Black Beauty (although, one must pause at this point to note Kevin Smith’s take on Darth Vader). Kong is an analogy for something more universal. It is a shame, and a cliche, that Evan Parke’s Hayes character gets offed while his far more annoying adoptive son Jamie Bell gets to live, but that doesn’t make King Kong any different from pretty much every film made over the last 30 years, and certainly doesn’t deserve to be singled out. Overall, I’m pleased they resisted the political correctness of making the natives urbane, nice people who drive Smart cars and help little old ladies across the road.
All in all, it is a seriously impressive piece of film making from someone who has already seriously impressed. What’s Jackson going to do next?
The only thing that marred the film for me was the audience. Kong only features one ape, yet there were dozens of monkeys at the North Finchley Vue last night. First of all, why would you take your five year old to see a 12A? Of course they’re going to be freaked out! Secondly, did you not know it is considered a faux pas to text during a film (and that’s coming from me!)? Thirdly, if you want to have a conversation go to a bar not a cinema. And fourthly, if you are going to lean over and provide a running commentary to your friend, at least keep your voice down.
If you can’t do that, then don’t be a fuckwit. At one point, Kong is shown eating some vegetation which looked a bit like a large stick of celery. The kid next to me shouted to his mate “What’s he eating bamboo for? He’s not a giant ape, he’s a giant koala!” That quote is remarkable because until then I didn’t realise so few words could be so wrong on so many levels. Well done (Tory run) Barnet LEA.