Man or Animal, Who Is the True Beast?

        The 1933 RKO pictures film King Kong, directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, was groundbreaking for many reasons. There are many things about this film that make it a classic. This film remains important to this day because of its special effects, its original score, and its groundbreaking use of miniature sets.

        The special effects in King Kong, while outdated, possibly even laughable by today's standards, were certainly way before their time. It is the first major motion picture to have a lifelike animated lead character. It was one of the first films to use stop motion to animate a character. According to, "Willis O'Brien, credited as "Chief Technician" on the film, has been lauded by later generations of film special effects artists as an outstanding genius of founder status." The producers managed to create a sixty-foot tall creature that was able to scare audiences, and they did so before the advent of computer technology.

        This is one of the first films on record to feature an all-original musical score in the background. That is, a musical score that was written specifically for the film. Many films before this had music, but most of them featured songs piped into the background, or songs played by a live pianist, not songs that were written for the film. says, "While not the first important Hollywood film to have a thematic music score (many silent films had multi-theme original scores written for them), it is generally considered to be the most ambitious early film to showcase an all-original score, courtesy of a promising young composer, Max Steiner."

        The film also achieves great significance due to its use of miniature sets. Many films today use these to get shots that would otherwise be impossible. It was not the first film to do this, but it was an important step in special effects. Having a giant ape climb a huge building in New York only to be shot down by planes would be a hard thing to accomplish in 2010; the film makers were able to do it convincingly in 1933, decades before the advent of computer-animation.

Work Cited
Dustin Howard

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