VeganMoFo, Day 31+: King Kong, Vegan Junk Food & Reflections on VeganMoFo

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Spoiler alert! – Namely, for Peter Jackson’s King Kong (2005). Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

OK, so perhaps this post is six days late, but I’ve been busy enjoying the last throes of warm, sunny weather here in the Midwest. Plus, there was this minor matter called the presidential elections on Tuesday…maybe you’ve heard of it?

As I mentioned previously, Shane & I have a longstanding (three years now?…maybe four?) Halloween tradition: namely, we spend the day watching horror movies and scarfing junk food. This H-day was no exception, although we didn’t get though as many scary movies as we usually do; we watched three flicks, compared to the normal five or six. Probably because the first film, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, ran three and a half hours! Also on the roster were Identity and Untraceable.

Aside from some dreadful “primitive tribal heathen” stereotyping early on, King Kong is an incredible film. There’s definitely a strong (albeit most likely unintentional) animal welfare message underlying Kong’s story, and it’s handled beautifully by director Peter Jackson and actor Naomi Watts. Jackson’s Kong is the last of his (her?) kind, living a life of solitude and loneliness on Skull Island – that is, until Carl Denham (Jack Black) and crew arrive in order to film a movie. Leading lady Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) is kidnapped from her ship by the island’s natives and sacrificed to Kong (cue awful stereotypes), presumably to keep the “beast” happy, content, and out of their camp. Kong, instead of devouring Darrow, initially keeps her as a sort of “pet.” (Kong is taken with her comedic vaudeville stylings, it seems.) Darrow soon escapes, but finds herself lost on a prehistoric island filled with rampaging dinosaurs and giant bugs. Kong, distraught at his only companion’s disappearance, tracks Darrow down, just in time to save her from two raptor-like dinos. Once Darrow is safe, Kong skulks off, injured both physically (from the battle) and emotionally (at Darrow’s desertion). Whether from fear or compassion (or, most likely, a combination of both), Darrow rejoins Kong.

Meanwhile, in the face of stampeding brontos and an angry Kong, Denham’s crew has abandoned their search for Darrow. Instead, they leave Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) to continue the search for Darrow (with whom he’s fallen in love), while the crew heads back to the ship in order to set a trap (unbeknown to Driscoll) for Kong, who’s sure to pursue the pair. Driscoll manages to find Kong’s den, which is littered with the bones of Kong’s long-dead relatives. Darrow is asleep in Kong’s palm; the two, who have formed a reciprocal, interspecies bond, watched the sun set and then nodded off together. Driscoll wakes Darrow, and the two attempt to sneak away without rousing Kong. Kong awakes in time to see the two creeping away together, and in the ensuing scuffle, a hoard of bats stir from their cliffside perch and attack the trio. Driscoll and Darrow manage to hitch a ride on one of the bats’ backs, and Kong runs after them in frenzied pursuit.

Naturally, this is where the story becomes a tearjerker. Kong is tranquilized, captured and caged during his attempt to retake a regretful Darrow. Back in NYC, Kong becomes part of a grotesque monster display, wherein Darrow’s sacrifice to the beast is reenacted for the entertainment of “horrified” audience. Darrow, who during her time with Kong had come to recognize his humanity, intelligence and sentience, wants nothing to do with the circus act, so director/showman Denham hires a Darrow lookalike to play the part. Kong begins the show partially sedated; as he comes to, he initially starts at the blond actress: I know her! Kong reaches out to Ann – only to become enraged when he realizes that it’s an impostor. Now furious, he rips free of his shackles and storms New York in search of his Ann. On the streets, he scoops up any and every thin blond he can find, only to toss the women aside when he realizes they aren’t the ones he wants.

Performing in a small, low-budget vaudeville hall, Darrow hears the commotion and runs towards Kong while throngs of flee in the other direction. Once Kong is reunited with his Jane Goodall, the two enjoy a few brief moments of reconnection. Kong, who hails from a tropical island, has never before seen ice or snow, and he delights in skidded across a pond in Central Park with Darrow perched safely in his hand. This playful scene is interrupted by a hail of gunfire; Kong, though he hasn’t intentionally harmed anyone (and is in fact a captive slave in the city, there against his will), must be destroyed! You probably know the rest: Kong is pursued by the police and military to the top of the Empire State Building, from which he is eventually gunned down.

Kong dies for our stupidity, greed, selfishness and speciesism.

(More below the fold…)