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Historical Context of the “King Kong” Movie Essay (Movie Review)


King Kong is considered as one of the greatest classic adventure-fantasy films in history. Adventurers Marian and Ernest directed the film. The two co-producers were vastly experienced in creating film documentaries. The producers conceived an adventurous story of a beautiful woman and a huge ape-monster. Interestingly, King Kong film was produced at a considerably low budget as compared to movies with a similar context.

The ape in the film was about fifty feet tall. Moreover, the monster was quite frightening. In general, the film was cast as a symbol of the beastly myth and archetypal beauty. The film brings to focus elements such as race, rebellion, violence, sex, and myth. It is also worth noting that the film shows thrilling technological advances in movie productions. Therefore, the film is an innovative piece of art by the producers. This paper will review the movie concerning its historical context.

Movie Content Review

King Kong film was mainly about the young beautiful blonde woman and the giant ape. The movie shows the discovery of a giant ape by filmmaker Carl Denham. The film crew considers it as unique and resorts to come with him back to New York. Once in New York, the giant ape causes great damages as it tries to protect the blonde-haired woman (Martin, 2016). The themes portrayed in the film are quite enticing because it appeals to a large group of audience.

Moreover, the use of special effects, as well as the animation of the ape is matchless. The movie exposes various issues that affected society during the time of its creation. The film is a jungle adventure genre with a plot device that makes Ann the beauty queen and makes Kong the giant beast. On the other hand, jack and Denham are made the heroes of the film. The natives view Ann as a special kind of craze while they view their women as objects of sex and barbarity. The film conveys natives as uncivilized (Dirks, 2016).

King Kong is a classical film full of adventure and fantasy. The film conveys various themes associated with the time in which it was produced. Cooper uses the film to appreciate the power of technology over nature. Kong dies because of beauty as filmmaker Denham concurs at the end of the film. Obsession with beauty is seen throughout the movie, it begins with Denham, who is thrilled by Ann’s beauty, and he gives her the job instantly.

Moreover, Jack is also obsessed with Ann’s beauty that he falls in love with her. Additionally, jack offers to risk his life for Ann. The King on the island is also obsessed with Ann that he offers six of his wives for her. Furthermore, King abducts Ann when his offer is rejected. Most importantly, Kong is also obsessed with Ann. Kong kills everyone, and everything that he perceives has the ability to harm Ann. Ann’s beauty is a form of obsession in the film. In the process, other themes that reflect the historical context of the film are also built around Ann’s beauty.

King Kong was more than a fairy tale because it embodied man’s fascinations with machines. The killing of Kong by airplane driven by Cooper proves his fascinations with machines. The movie acts as science fiction with the aim of showing how science had conquered nature. The film also tries to show how a man can use his machines to control nature. This is evident when Kong, who has caused enough devastation in the film, is killed by a machine. The film also tries to symbolize a vanishing world. In this regard, both Kong and the dinosaurs are seen to fade away as the film ushers in civilization. From the film, it can be observed that the machines signified science while the ape symbolized nature. On the other hand, Denham and his crew signified civilization while the natives symbolized primitivism.

The element of race is quite evident given the way Ann is portrayed as beautiful even to a beast. This element is emphasized when the King of the native islanders offers six of his wives for Ann. Furthermore, when the offer is refused, the King kidnaps Ann because of her striking beauty. Moreover, beauty is associated with whites, while ugliness and beastliness is associated with blacks in the film (HDmovie14 Team, 2016).

Even Ann agrees that she had expected a tall black man to be the beast in her memoir book. This only compounds the fact that during this time, people of color were considered primitive, and ape-like. Moreover, they were considered beastly. This is foreshadowed when the crew meets men in guerilla skins (Morton, 2005).

Racial metaphor is therefore clear in this context. This only proves that during the years of its production, racial discrimination was still rife. The level of civilization was also low. Moreover, violence against women was rife, especially in primitive societies of people of color. Sexism is also predominant in the film, which exposes male chauvinism at the time (Putlocker, 2016). For instance, the King is observed to be ready to exchange six women for one.

Moreover, women are undermined in this society. Rebellion is also quite evident in the movie. For instance, Denham refuses to tell his crew of the location of his next film, which leaves him isolated to look for a leading actress. King Kong excels in rebellion against his captors. Violence is also characterized in the movie right from the island to New York where it takes the intervention of soldiers to kill Kong. King Kong film mirrors a society that is faced by elements such as myths, violence, race, rebellion, primitivism, and sex (Erb, 2009).

Historical Context

Historical aspect of a film is essential to its analysis. In most cases, films usually mirror the cultural setting of the places in which they are recorded. Moreover, films also mirror the time of production. This involves analysis of factors namely social and economic, among others. These factors are essential in influencing artists when creating films. Clearly, the film was produced during a period of racial clashes, especially between blacks and whites.

In this regard, black males were linked to obscene characters while white females were likened to super models. Both black and white males adored these white supermodels, although the former seemed overly obsessed with the white women. The film portrays isolated places, in this case the island, as areas where primitivism exists. On the other hand, the film portrays towns as areas where civilization exists. Therefore, King Kong is transported from an isolated Island to a civilized city. This occurrence can be correlated with the migrations of blacks from rural to urban towns.

Historical context of King Kong mirrors several activities during the period of its production. Some of these themes include race, sex, rebellion, beauty and beast. Historically, the movie was produced 15 years after World War I, a period when social tensions and racial discriminations were rampant. Historical context shows that black movements from rural to urban centers were widespread, and the movement led to racial frictions in the United States.

A number of race riots were observed in the United States namely the 1919 Chicago riots, among others. These riots went on until the release of the movie. Moreover, blacks broke off from Republican Party, and they voted for Frank Roosevelt. Interestingly, the movie was released three days before Roosevelt’s inauguration (Rosen, 2004).


The movie exemplifies Cooper’s fascinations with technology. His adventurous film shows the victory of machine over nature. This film had a lot of implication on the movie industry. Several movies were produced with the same genre. Moreover, the film revolutionized technological advances in movie industry. The movie exposes the dashing spirit of Cooper who was interested in creating thrilling movies. The fact that Cooper could not use a real ape epitomizes his desire to take filmmaking to the next level. The use of airplanes in killing the giant ape also typifies the change King Kong brought to the development of Hollywood movies.

King Kong functions as both a fairy tale and a science fiction. The film brings to fore the implication that scientific expeditions explore every part of the globe. The film inspired the production great movies such as creature features, star wars, Jurassic park, and Godzilla, among others. Essentially, the film’s implications were exciting because it improved use of technology in the industry.

Reference List

Dirks, T. (2016). . Web.

Erb, C. (2009). Tracking King Kong: a Hollywood Icon in World Culture. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.

HDmovie14 Team (2016). Watch “King Kong (1933)” in full HD 1080p. Web.

Martin, L. (2016). King Kong (1933). Web.

Morton, R. (2005). King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson. New York, NY: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.

Putlocker (2016). Watch King Kong (1933) online. Web.

Rosen, D. (2004). . Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "Historical Context of the "King Kong" Movie." September 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/historical-context-of-the-king-kong-movie/.


IvyPanda. "Historical Context of the "King Kong" Movie." September 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/historical-context-of-the-king-kong-movie/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Historical Context of the "King Kong" Movie." September 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/historical-context-of-the-king-kong-movie/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Historical Context of the "King Kong" Movie'. 9 September.

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