I picked up this limited edition Kong skull from Weta Collectibles at the Hollywood Show today. The story of King Kong has enthralled audiences since the iconoclastic 1933 film. The pioneering special effects and stop motion models created by Willis O’Brien clearly influenced Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake and, by extension, the model seen above.
Special effects aside, it is the narrative of Kong as antihero and metaphor that is so compelling. As one of the most famous lines in cinematic history, “It was Beauty killed the Beast” provokes a slew of commentary on race and social mores that was contextually relevant in the 1930s. Whether one can make the same argument with the timing of Jackson’s re-imagination of the classic film is debatable.
Perhaps the most creative reference to Kong is in the tavern scene of Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009). Never shy from controversial depictions in his film, Tarantino brandishes an SS agent in a game with the task of guessing a persona that a) comes from a tropical region, b) was made captive and taken across the sea in chains, and c) arrived in a foreign land against his will. He narrows it down to two possibilities: the American Negro and King Kong.
The gall. The brilliance. It is one of my favorite scenes of all time.