Monkeys versus Dinosaurs

         It is said that there are only a few stories that have ever been told and that the many variants are simply extrapolations of the archetypal stories told for thousands of years around campfires. The adventure and exploration story is one that has been told many times in many ways by many cultures, and it is one that has been made into films many times because of its inherent ability to shock, astound, amaze, and engage audiences with the endless possibilities of what adventures and exploration can uncover and discover. The movies King Kong (1933), directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, and Jurassic Park II: The Lost World (1997) are both of the adventure/exploration type of story, but they have more in common than just the idea behind them. The similarities between King Kong (1933) and Jurassic Park II (1997), directed by Steven Spielberg, are readily apparent when one analyzes the story of the film in three acts.

         The first acts of King Kong and Jurassic Park II are similar in many ways. Heroes and adventurers set out to a mysterious island to explore the island’s many intriguing inhabitants, including dinosaurs. We hear much about this island to add to the mystery, and it becomes apparent that not everyone involved has motives that are honorable. Some want merely to make money off of the island, a commentary on imperialism and the devastation it leaves in its wake for its victims.

         The second acts of King Kong and Jurassic Park II are similar in many ways. In the second act those involved realize they are in for more than they bargained for, and the story becomes a struggle or survival as the inhabitants try to escape from the island, encountering the many denizens of the land along the way, losing lives and risking more.

         The third acts of King Kong and Jurassic Park II are similar in many ways. In the third act the imperialistic characters bring back a large, scary creature to exploit for throngs of curious people on the mainland. Havoc ensues, however, when the creature breaks free of its constraints and terrorizes the city, teaching a valuable lesson to those who not only exploited the large beast but underestimated it as well. The movies end with the subduing of the gargantuan animals and the return to normalcy for the characters involved—those still alive, that is.

         The similarities between King Kongand Jurassic Park II: The Lost World are obvious when one analyzes the story of the film in three acts. It is clear that Jurassic Park gained a lot of inspiration from the story of King Kong. While they are the same story told in different ways, the story of adventure and exploration is one that has been prevalent in cinema since the inception of the camera, and it will be one told over and over in new ways for as long as the human imagination survives.

Eric Hovis

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