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   The LIU Brooklyn Library Media Center Newsletter 
   We love movies, among other things.

March 2013, issue 67

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This issue of  BLMC is brought to you all the way from the back row by beastly Media Assistant Patrick Jewell.  Tell your friends. 


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80 years ago this month, King Kong hit the movie palaces. I was not around back then, but nevertheless, I owe a lot to that big ape, and to the little metal, rubber, and fur model that Willis O'Brien put together and animated so well.  He was a big inspiration for me as a young artist, as I spent hours and hours drawing him and his sparring partners, whether they were allosauruses, or pterodactyls, or bullet-spraying biplanes.  And I know he's why I love movies so much, too, and stories of all kinds. I remember the first time I saw Cooper and Schoedsack's King Kong was in the basement of the local public library in Toledo, Ohio, flickering and roaring on the big bare wall. And he's probably even one of the reasons why I love New York City so darn much. As a kid, I read all I could about the movie and its effects, soaked up books full of illustrations and posters.  I entered a Humane Society Be Kind to Animals poster contest with a cut paper opus that featured a helicopter delivering a giant banana to Kong on the Empire State Building. Eventually, I had a great poster in my bedroom, with Kong high over NYC in brilliant color.  And I still get choked up when the planes finally get him with their relentless volleys of tiny bullets, and he grabs his throat, reels, catches himself with one long arm, then finally falls, buffeting against the sides of the skyscraper on his way down. 

(Pause to compose myself) Ahem. But enough about me. We have the original film on both DVD and laserdisc, and we have Peter Jackson's rollicking, loving, and king-sized remake. We do not have the campy but enjoyable De Laurentiis remake from 1976. (Oh how the publicity shots of the giant gorilla they constructed teased us kids from the gaudy pages of Famous Monsters, and then when we trooped to the theater, Kong turned out to be just another guy in a gorilla suit!) We also have one of the precursors to Kong, the silent film The Lost World, where a brontosaurus runs rampant on the streets of London, thanks again to Willis O'Brien. How many fewer movies would there be if there'd been no Kong?  Would Ray Harryhausen or Peter Jackson or the gang at Pixar made movies? Or even Spielberg? Probably, but they wouldn't be as good. Not without the original, iconic Kong to spur and inspire young imaginations. 

Say what you will about how the effects look today (when I watched it with my son for the first time a few years ago, he asked me why the ape looked like poop, and I'm still proud of myself for not raising my voice in reply); I think they still look great, and even if they are not as smooth as CGI, they are made of real surfaces stroked with real light and the animation builds a character as real and heartfelt as any that's ever been filmed. To give credit where it's due, however, the computer animation in Jackson's remake is impeccable, as is Andy Serkis' performance, and the film is stuffed to bursting with action and creatures and showbiz moxie. 

The Media Librarian and I were discussing Terence Malick's Tree of Life yesterday, and she mentioned how that film opens with dinosaurs, which didn't sit well with some people. I said that any film that finds a reason to stick some dinosaurs into the action is fine with me, and I thought immediately of Jackson's joyful and childlike fanboy decision to expand the great Kong vs. allosaurus fight from the original into a Kong vs. THREE ALLOSAURUSES fight in the remake. Why three?  Do you have to ask? That one scene turned me into a seven year-old kid again. I mean, why even make a movie if you're not going to put dinosaurs in it.

King Kong was a movie that made countless kids fall in love with movies; the remake is a movie that gives the love back with tenderness and care and thrills. The remake is a movie that loves movies. So Happy 80th Birthday to one of the founding fathers, the primal primate, the once and future king of Movie Magic:  the one, the only, King Kong of 1933.

The LIU Brooklyn Library Media Center
Rachel King, Media Librarian  (718) 488-1311
Patrick Jewell,  Media Staff  (718) 488-3392
Lisa Rivera,  Media Staff  (718) 780-4378

The LIU Brooklyn Library Media Center is located on the fifth floor of the LLC. 
Come up and see us some time.