how to watch king kong

I finally made my way round to watching King Kong on DVD. I'd meant to see it in theatres, but passed every time in favour of intimate character-driven films in small venues. And when those weren't available, in favour of getting drunk down at O'Hanlon's.

I probably should have gotten drunk. King Kong is the ultimate big-screen film, full of panoramic shots with small details that you cannot see on a TV screen. And then there's the problem of scale - when you're creating scenes with a 25' gorilla and a 5' woman, you need a huge screen to see both of them clearly. Otherwise you're watching an ape fall in love with a matchstick. A hot little matchstick with blonde curls and a vaudeville routine.

If you decide to watch the film in a movie theatre, then you're stuck in a chair for three hours. Three hours to look at a fake gorilla? Actually, you wait ninety minutes to see the fake gorilla, which is the length of a decent feature film. Considering that the title of the film refers to the big fake gorilla, it seems strange to make you wait over an hour to see it. Imagine Titanic if the first hour were just some people standing around the docks saying "When's the ship getting here?". And then a man shows up and says, "Oh, you missed it. It left yesterday and sank in the Atlantic after running into an iceberg. Highly dramatic". And then everyone goes home.

It is a reliable scientific fact that your modern theatre goer will have drunk five gallons of crappy sugarwater before the opening credits even roll. Therefore it is a certainty that you will miss at least a few minutes of King Kong somewhere between the three-quarter hour bridge and the treacherous two-and-a-half-hour gorge. Peter Jackson has crafted a solution to this by making sure that the central ninety minutes of the film contain nearly nothing worth watching, unless you think it's worth your while to watch a bunch of unmemorable sailors get chewed or crushed or tossed around.

King Kong contains fifteen non-consecutive minutes of good film. The best thing to do is to go to the theatre with the intention of seeing the film and going to V for Vendetta instead, because King Kong's been gone for months now.