Toward the end of the film King Kong gets away from the crew members and goes in pursuit of Driscoll (The First Mate). Driscoll is shown to be taking refuge in a small cave near the ledge. This scene uses miniature rear projection technique to depict Kong’s hand and Driscoll’s person in the cave. Though many attempts have been made prior to this using miniature rear projection technique, this scene stands head and shoulders above other for its flawless technical brilliance (Farmelo, 2000).
King Kong was a huge financial success. It returned $5 million in North America alone. The budget for this movie was only $650,000. Hollywood essentially is a money-making enterprise. In this respect King Kong was classic Hollywood. It also holds the distinction of being the first film to be re-released in theatres across the world. King Kong also inspired a series of remakes, sequels and spin-offs. These later productions were not just confined to the big-screen. The influence of King Kong was to pervade into plays, cartoons, magazines, advertisements, television serials and many more (White, 2006). The fact that none of these subsequent productions found the same level of success as the 1933 version goes to prove the quality of the original version. This fact is succinctly expressed by Damon Young:
“If King Kong in its original version provides material evidence of the sexism and racism that condition the emergence of cinema as the twentieth century’s premier form of mass entertainment, the contemporary remake nonetheless celebrates it as a masterpiece of genre. Where the new version pays faithful homage to the stylistic and formal innovations of the original, it does so at the expense of any ideological critique or reassessment of their terms. The new King Kong does, however, encourage an ironic reading by heightening the self-reflexivity that was already germane to the original film, which was about making a film” (Young, Damon)
If a movie’s success is determined by its impact on popular culture, then King Kong surely was a success. A noted film critic once observed that the character King Kong is known to more people than any other on-screen character. The movie’s popularity was so pervasive that it attracted audience inclined to particular genres. This is made possible by the fact that the film contained sufficient offering of romance, horror, adventure, drama and fantasy. The seamless integration of jungle landscape with a metropolis landscape was superbly done. (Silverblatt, 1996)
The 1930’s were still a period of racial discrimination in America. Through out American history, from the days of the Declaration of Independence, the Black has always been represented in mainstream culture as a barbaric and primitive creature. In the movie, Kong was an ape, a Black creature that is portrayed as inferior to the white European people. The Black creature is fetched from the ‘uncivilized’ jungle and terrorizes the ‘civilized’ White city inhabitants. At the time of the release in 1933 some film critics alluded to the fact that the Black ape monster is similar in characteristics to that of a Black Negro. This interpretation is supported by the fact that the natives in the mysterious island were also Black. The fact that such assumptions did not raise disagreement, let alone an outrage, goes on to show the deep-seated racial beliefs of the American society in general and Hollywood in particular. Again, the captured monster is brought over to America to be displayed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. The capture and shipping of Kong has semblances of Slave Trade. Hence, fictitious as it is, King Kong is also a documentary of the attitudes and beliefs of the American society at that point in time. These sentiments are reflected in the following commentary: