King Kong (1933)
R4 - Australia - Magna Pacific
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (25th July 2004).
The Film

Released in 1933 King Kong was a cinematic achievement that marvelled audiences around the world, with its then groundbreaking special effects the exciting tragic adventure was a bona fide box office hit. In fact at the film's early screenings in California people where reported to have left the theatre screaming, some scenes where so gruesome for the time that word of mouth spread quickly and throughout the 1930's up until the early 1950's the film was re-released over and over again into theatres each time appearing as a new version, four different edits where produced as a result each shorter in length than the last.
In 1971 director Merian C. Cooper released his Director's Cut version of the film, adding back all the cuts that where made to the original version of the film, this restored version is the most common edit currently on DVD, which includes this Region 4 release.
In King Kong, Filmmaker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) is seeking to shoot a new film on a remote island. With his newly cast leading lady the beautiful actress Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) they embark with an expedition team to the remote island said to be populated by Natives who have built a giant wall to protect them with what lies on the other side of the island, the fabled Kong.
After having landed on the island the team encounter the Natives who offer to pay six of their women for the golden beauty that is Ann Darrow, disagreeing to such a Preposterous offer the team return to the safety of their ship. They eventually find out that Ann has disappeared, she has been captured by the Natives in order to sacrifice to the mighty Kong.
King Kong takes the bait and the team are now on a rescue mission, making their way through a part of the island that appeared to have been forgotten by time, seeing sights of which have not been seen for millions of years. But when they come across the king of all beasts King Kong their rescue attempt is in vein as he escapes to his cave. Where he curiously examines his new trophy, eventually Kong falls in love with Ann. The team mount another rescue, this time successful and also decide to capture Kong using some smoke bombs that Carl brought with him. Carl believes that Kong would make a wonderful attraction for the masses to see, after capturing Kong they transport him back to New York.
Shackled and exhibited to the masses does not go down well combined with his love for Ann and the need to be with her prompts his escape by breaking free of his shackles and runs amok in New York with his beauty in his clutches, all leading to the iconic Empire State Building showdown with the air force plane ordered to take Kong Out.
Presented here in its restored 1971 Director's Cut, King Kong is one of the silver screen's most classic of films, the film is riddled with high-stakes adventure, snappy dialogue, some very theatrical performances and most importantly some of the best stop motion animation for it's time. If you haven't already seen this classic I urge you to check it out before Peter Jackson makes his $100+ million re-make later this year.

Video

Presented in the film's original ratio of 1.33:1 (full frame) this transfer is plagued with problems. The image is occasionally soft and lacks detail, artefacting is almost constant, the print also appears to be damaged, lines, scratches and spots are all over the place. Additionally there also appear to be several instances of ghosting and blurring. Despite these problems, this film is over 60 years old so a clean transfer would be extremely hard to achieve, in order to do this one would have to undergo a Citizen Kane style restoration process.

Audio

This DVD includes an English MPEG Mono soundtrack. The dialogue is generally easy to hear but the track itself suffers from a lot of problems, a hiss is constant throughout the film, there are occasional audio holes, dropouts and pops. I also found that the sound level of the musical score occasionally fluctuates up and down. The DVD features no subtitles.

Extras

None!

Overall

King Kong is one of those great Hollywood classics that never die and it seems to be able to continue to find new audiences, even 61 years since its release. This DVD is rather awful, the transfer needs a serious face life and the audio is terrible. King Kong needs a complete audio and visual restoration with some decent extras. Warner Brothers planned to release a 60th anniversary edition but for reasons unknown this title was delayed. It is also known that Universal plan on issuing a Region 4 2-disc Special Edition later this year or early next year.

The Film: A Video: D Audio: D Extras: F Overall: D-

 


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