King Kong

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A scene reminiscent of King Kong, probably from the lost 1933 film Wasei Kingu Kongu

King Kong is a fictional monkey creature of monumental proportions. King Kong was the first monster that was invented for the film and not adapted from literature. The original, which was produced in 1933 under the title King Kong and the white woman by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack , is a milestone in film history and ushered in the era of special effects . Since then, there have been numerous, both official and unofficial remakes , sequels , adaptations and parodies of the material. In 2017 themost recent remake directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts .


Beginnings and production of the original

The story of King Kong is based on two ideas; on the one hand on the unfinished film Creation by Harry Hoyt and Willis O'Brien , on the other hand on a script draft by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. Some sources also refer to a series from 1929 called The King of the Kongo , which has many similarities to the original King Kong in both name and plot .

Frémiet, Gorille enlevant une négresse 1859

Sculptures by the French sculptor Emmanuel Frémiet , who created a gorilla in 1859 and 1887 that kidnapped a human woman , are considered to be an inspiration . The exhibition of the first version caused a considerable scandal.

Merian C. Cooper was finally, the potential of the frame exposure O'Briens in the sequences of Creation recognized and the author Edgar Wallace with writing a screenplay commissioned - at that time still under the working title The Beast (English. The Beast ). However, since Wallace passed away before he could begin the script, Schoedsack's wife Ruth Rose took over the job. According to the information in the book David O. Selznicks Hollywood by Roland Haver (published in German by Rogner & Bernhard , 1982) Wallace - at the instigation of the production company - was still working on the first version of the script, but since Cooper was not satisfied with its work, there was a " gentlemen's agreement " between them , according to which Wallace was named as the author in the opening credits (which led to the legend that Wallace was the inventor of King Kong). Before the premiere of the film in 1933, the novel of the same name by Delos W. Lovelace, which is based on film, was published in New York in 1932.

In order to save costs for the ailing production company RKO Pictures , sets from the Schoedsack film Graf Zaroff - Genie des Böse (1932) and other films were reused. The palisade and the great gate that protects the native village in the first King Kong filming were also reused and ultimately burned during the filming of the classic Gone With the Wind . RKO Pictures could be rehabilitated by the immense success of the box office at the time. In the same year, the sequel to King Kong's Son ( The Son of Kong ) was created, also directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack.

Mighty Joe Young

In 1949, the team Cooper (production, screenplay) and Schoedsack (direction), together with a large part of the crew involved in King Kong and the white woman , shot another film with a giant ape as the protagonist. It was marketed in Germany under the title Panik um King Kong ( Mighty Joe Young ), although it was not an official King Kong production. With Mighty Joe Young , another giant monkey film set a milestone in animation. At the side of stop-motion pioneer Willis O'Brien , the young Ray Harryhausen took part in a major production for the first time. The animation technique of the film was honored with an Oscar in 1950 . In 1998 the film was remade by Ron Underwood ( My Great Friend Joe ) .

Japanese films

Early, unofficial King Kong imitations

About half a year after the premiere of King Kong and the White Woman , a short film by Torajiro Saito was shot in Japan under the title Japanese King Kong ( 和 製 キ ン グ コ ン グ , Wasei Kingu Kongu ). It was produced by the company that published King Kong and the White Woman on behalf of RKO Pictures in Japan. It is unclear today whether the short film was shot and shown with the permission of the rights holder. Little else is known about the production either. The film reels themselves were lost during World War II and are still missing today.

The 1938 also lost film King Kong appears in Edo ( 江 戸 に 現 れ た キ ン グ コ ン グ , Edo ni Arawareta Kingu Kongu ) was produced without acquiring the rights. However, it is considered a seminal film in the Japanese Kaiju genre. The monkey costume used was designed by Fuminori Ohashi , who years later designed the first Godzilla costume.

Adaptation of the figure by Toho

The Japanese Toho Studios produced two King Kong films in the 1960s with the permission of the RKO. Directed by Ishirō Honda , who made the first Godzilla film in 1954, the monster film King Kong vs. Godzilla ( キ ン グ コ ン グ 対 ゴ ジ ラ , Kingu Kongu Tai Gojira ), which was published in Germany under the title The Return of King Kong . King Kong first appeared in color in this film. The figure has been adapted to the Japanese Kaiju genre. King Kong was shown much larger than in the American original to match the dimensions of Godzilla, and was also given a supernatural ability typical of these films ( power weapon ). So it is possible for King Kong in the film to charge himself electrically and to inflict electric shocks on his opponents.

In 1967 the second official Toho adaptation of the King Kong character was released under the title King Kong Escapes (also King Kong's Counterattack , キ ン グ コ ン グ の 逆襲 , Kingu Kongu no Gyakushū ), but its content has no connection to the first production or the original. In this film, King Kong has to fight off a mechanical image, the Mechani Kong ( メ カ ニ コ ン グ , Mekanikongu ). In Germany the film was released under the title King Kong - Frankenstein's Son . The German distributor wanted to suggest that it was a sequel to the then successful Japanese monster film Frankenstein - The horror with the monkey face , which was not the case. Because of the success of King Kong - Frankenstein's son , various films in the Godzilla series were advertised as sequels in Germany in the following years , but none of these films contained the character King Kong.

Two remakes by Guillermin and Jackson

In 1975, Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis acquired the rights to remake the original. The project was directed by John Guillermin . The viewers, who had hoped for groundbreaking innovations in trick technology as King Kong and the white woman had to offer at the time, were disappointed. A mechanical King Kong figure designed by Carlo Rambaldi , measuring 12 meters in height and weighing more than 6.5 tons and costing over $ 1.7 million, turned out to be almost impossible to use during filming and was only about in the final version of the film 15 seconds to see. Some critics also considered the film a disappointing sham, while others praised it for an atmospherically dense story, an appealing, sometimes ironic script and strong actors. The hitherto unknown Jessica Lange was particularly able to distinguish herself and then started a successful film career. Contrary to popular belief, the film was not a financial flop. It brought in around three times the production costs. The sequel King Kong Lives , also shot ten years later by Guillermin , fell through with both film critics and the box office.

The second remake of the original, directed by Peter Jackson and released in theaters in 2005, had been eagerly anticipated in advance due to a gigantic budget and the seemingly unlimited possibilities of modern animation technology, and unlike Guillermin's filming it was possible the expectations of the audience in this regard are met or even exceeded. The plot of the film, in which computer animation takes up a large space, has been expanded to include various creatures such as oversized insects and various dinosaurs. While the film was largely positively or enthusiastically received by critics and audiences, some complained that the trick spectacle and not the plot was the focus.



Musical and theater

Computer games and interactive media

  • 1982: King Kong; for Atari 2600
  • 2005: Peter Jackson's King Kong; various platforms
  • 2005: Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World; for Game Boy Advance


  • Delos W. Lovelace: King Kong. Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1932; Futura, London, 1977.
  • Orville Goldner, George E. Turner: The Making of King Kong - The story behind a film classic. AS Barnes and Co., 1975.
  • Helmut Kassodo: King Kong. Wolfgang Krüger Verlag, Frankfurt / Main, 1976; Goldmann, Munich 1987.
  • Rolf Giesen: Everything about Kong. (Taurus, Munich, 1993).
  • Joe DeVito, Brad Strickland: Kong: King of Skull Island. DH Press, 2005.
  • Ray Morton: King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson. Applause Books, 2005.
  • Klaus Fehling : Kong - monologue for a strange hero. Luftschiff-Verlag, 2011, ISBN 978-3-942792-00-4 .
  • Stefanie Affeldt: Exterminating the Brute. Racism and Sexism in King Kong. In: Wulf D. Hund , Charles W. Mills, Silvia Sebastiani (Eds.): Simianization. Apes, Class, Gender, and Race. Lit, Berlin [et al.] 2015.
  • Marc Carnal: King Kong in Vienna. Milena Verlag, 2017, ISBN 978-3-902950-95-6 .

Web links

Commons : King Kong  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Nantes Insolite. King Kong vit à Nantes, on l'a retrouvé. Press Ocean. November 25, 2015, accessed February 25, 2018.
  2. David Brin / Leah Wilson: King Kong Is Back !: An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape , Dallas 2005. p. 213
  3. Mark Vaz: Living Dangerously: The Adventures of Merian C. Cooper, Creator of King Kong , 2005, pp. 193ff
  4. ^ Bruce Bahrenburg: The Making of Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong , New York 1976, p. 204
  5. ^ King Kong (1976) - Box office / business
  6. ^ King Kong Lives (1986) - Box Office Mojo
  7. Monsters with properties - news DIE WELT - WELT ONLINE
  8. Manifest - Das Filmmagazin: Film, Blu-ray and DVD reviews, essays and reports, portraits and interviews