April 23, 2006

Watched Peter Jackson's King Kong; we got through it in two evenings, but only because Caitlyn went to bed early for one of them. The movie is large and very pretty to look at, but uncomfortable to watch at times (not just for the enormous bugs), and it left me with an unpleasant aftertaste.

Jackson has said a number of times, even in an interview on the back of a Kelloggs' Pops' box, that he was remaking a film he saw as a child, a film he credits with getting him into the movie business in the first place. King Kong is a remake, not an update. The bits with the Skull Islanders still carry tones of early 20th Century white man perspectives on non-white, primitive cultures.

But it's the line at the end that sticks uncomfortably in my head, the famous "It was Beauty killed the Beast." It's wedged there and makes me sutter, "But, but, but..." whenever I run up against one of the sharper edges. Because it's just an excuse to make opportunistic, money-grubbing Carl, and the audience, feel better. Beauty didn't kill Kong. Fear and ignorance killed him. The sudden presence of beauty and kindness in his life merely makes his end a tragic one. By blaming Beauty, no one has to change his habits or his world view to make room for things wild or beyond human control. By blaming Beauty, we get to go back to Skull Island, build a tourist resort, and charge safari fees for those who want to see the dinosaurs and the over-grown bugs. This time, nothing unplanned will happen in Jurassic Park.

1 comment:

  1. Amen. I also find it interesting that it's the woman in the story that bridges the gap between civilization and the untamed wilderness. In fact, women have been worshiped and vilified throughout history for that very trait.