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Dirty Kong, dirty

28/11/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

Buy King Kong in the USA - or Buy King Kong in the UK

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In the new King Kong movie remake, director Peter Jackson honours the 1933 original by featuring an old Kong, with drooped eyebrows and matted and mucky fur.

Director Peter Jackson's $207 million remake of King Kong is three hours long, a difference from the 1933 original, which was 100 minutes.

"A few people have already asked me why we're taking twice as long to tell essentially the same story," Jackson told Newsweek magazine. "And I don't really know. We've been asking that ourselves. I'm going to have to come up with a better answer."

Senior Writer Devin Gordon, who got an exclusive first look at the film when he accepted Jackson's invitation and flew halfway around the world to see it, writes that perhaps the best answer is the movie itself.

"If the 44-year-old Kiwi felt any pressure over following up 'The Lord of the Rings,' you won't find a hint of it on screen," Gordon writes in the December 5th 2005 issue of Newsweek. "Some critics will complain that the film's length is an act of Oscar-drunk hubris, but while 'Kong' may be indulgent, it's not pretentious. And it's certainly never dull. Jackson has honored his favorite film in the best possible way: by recapturing its heart-pounding, escapist glee."

Gordon writes that one of the major differences in the remake is Kong. Jackson's ape is pushing 50 years old, his jaw is offset and his right eyebrow droops from long-ago scrapes with dinosaurs. His fur is matted and mucky, with bald patches here and there from the scar tissue. "Peter really wanted a sense that Kong is old and grizzled and scarred," says Philippa Boyens, Jackson's screenwriter, "because it tells a story of being alone. And of having to survive in the most dangerous place on earth."

Kong's existence is pure brutality - until Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts, in the role made iconic by Fay Wray) comes along. "She sparks his curiosity," Jackson says. "It's the first time he's ever empathized with another living creature." Ann, thinking the rest of her shipmates are dead, comes to depend on Kong for protection. Their relationship is poignantly drawn - although after Kong is dragged to New York City in chains, there's a scene on a frozen pond in Central Park that tilts toward the corny. Gordon writes that it must have made Jackson impatient too. He ends it abruptly with a giddy blast of artillery fire.

Another difference from the original is Ann Darrow's love interest, Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) was the ship's first mate in the 1933 version; this time around, he is filmmaker Carl Dehnam's (Jack Black) screenwriter.

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