Sunday, August 24, 2014

You Big Ape

I'm a fan of fantasy and science fiction stories, like King Kong and Mighty Joe Young. I've seen the Fay Wray version and the Jessica Lange version and even the Jack Black version of the great Kong and the only version of Mighty Joe Young that was ever produced several times. Well, only once for the Jack Black version. As much as I enjoy Naomi Watts's work, let's face it, Jack Black was the star of that show.

One thing I find perplexing is how every time they show Kong in his native habitat, there are other monsters from the dinosaur age, but the trees and plants are the versions we see all the time. If the world in which Kong and his Triassic or Jurassic pals have been cut off from the rest of the world, the plant life would not be sufficient to sustain vegetarians of such massive size, which may also explain why Kong has lived for hundreds of years without skeletal signs of parents or a tribe of gorillas just like him. I suppose some alien visitors took all the prehistoric animals and transplanted them to their fog-shrouded island where time had moved on after injecting the animals with some immortality serum so that living forever wouldn't be a problem even though insufficient plant life to sustain them would be.

I know. I'm forgetting to suspend my disbelief and seeing things in a rational manner which is definitely not a good idea when faced with a fantasy/science fiction movie where scientific fact has been left out in order to further the story. After all, what difference does scientific fact have to do with science fiction? Pure flights of fancy should never have to face such hard realities as how the monsters got to their world forgotten by time and how they could possibly survive without sufficient food. That's a problem for mere mortals like me. And don't get me started on monster manure and what happens to all the urine they excrete. After all, no one goes to the bathroom in movies or books, at least not for anything as mundane as voiding and excretion. (That is urinating and defecating for the low information crowd.) That just muddies up the waters -- or yellows them to be more exact.

That is the main problem I have with hidden worlds cut off from the flow of time that happens everywhere else on this planet. The plant life does not get cut off as well. The plants get smaller and yet the dinosaurs and big apes keep getting bigger. I suppose the plants could supply more nutrition than their gigantic ancestors did to support such a diverse population of monsters, but there still should be evidence of the monsters' forebears to make it easier to swallow that the current crop came from somewhere other than some source of deus ex machina or aliens with a natural habitat-zoo fetish. I doubt gods or aliens work in quite that way.

One thing we now know is that even the vegetarian dinosaurs were likely mammals as the meat eaters certainly were. So much for the terrible lizards since they were all hot blooded. Natural selection, destruction by comet, and the usual sources that killed off the dinosaurs as did dwindling food supplies as the Earth cooled and the greenhouse effect that nourished giant plants and trees gave way to a much cooler environment north and south of the equator. For all we know, the Earth's axial tilt could also have changed. All we have left are the birds, which are the evolutionary cousins of dinosaurs, which by the way, showed evidence of feathers in fossil form. Hard to imagine a chicken or an ostrich coming from dinosaurs, but that is what happened. I wonder why the adaptation for hollow bones came about, other than to make sure the birds could fly. Dinosaur bones were certainly not hollow and were much heavier to support the massive weight of their flesh -- even when they held their tails up and didn't drag them on the ground as scientists once thought. How far we have come in our understanding of the ancient world, even if in the modern world we still can't get the habitats right, or at least right enough for movies like King Kong and The Land That Time Forgot, among other lost world books and movies.

Yes, I still can't shake the part of me that insists on accuracy and something approaching reality. It's a flaw. I admit it.

Basically, the story of King Kong and Mighty Joe Young is the story of Beauty and the Beast. Instead of the fairy tale version where Beauty saves the beast because she realizes she loves him and has treated him badly, Beauty is the reason the Beast dies. His love for his diminutive blonde mate signals his end of life. As Jack said in the 1976 version starring a fresh-faced, scantily clad Jessica Lange, when Charles Grodin took Kong from his hidden island, he took the mystery, terror, and magic from the people who worshiped and sacrificed their virgins to their god. Modern man destroyed their religion and their god. I agree with Jack, but I still wonder how a black race of people got the idea that a blonde virgin would satisfy their god when they had likely never seen a blonde woman -- or a white one -- even though their rituals prominently featured blonde, white skinned virgins. I guess there is some genetic memory of goddesses with white skin and blonde hair even among a people lost from the natural flow of time, but that touches too closely on the theory that the people that created the black races (or brought them from the Pleiades as slaves) were white skinned and likely blonde. Seems to me the fossil records from the American shores show giants with red hair, and then there are those red-haired, fair-skinned giants of legend among the Asian people in Outer Mongolia. Now we're getting back to facts and reality and that is no good for fantasy. Best stick to the story and not think too much or use the dormant side of the human brain. Such mental exercises might increase the use of that 10% and edge into Einstein territory.

Don't get me wrong. I do enjoy the evolving special effects and men in gorilla suits, and eventually the computerized special effects of the King Kong of 2005, not to mention the acting styles of the Beauty that fascinates and brings down the only living specimen of a giant gorilla as much as the next person. I love to be entertained, and all versions are entertaining in their own special way, even if Jack Black outshines Naomi Watts in the 2005 version despite Miss Watts's considerable acting abilities. I guess I'll have to be content with the fantasy and the blonde beauties as they turn a fond eyes toward the monster that first terrified them and eventually brought them to tears.

It was different for Might Joe Young since he was brought up by  white family in Africa and, through love and nurturing, and one would expect a massive quantity of fruits and vegetables, the little gorilla became a giant among gorillas and as protective of Jill Young (played by Terry Moore in the 1949 version and Charlize Theron in the 1998 Disney version) as Kong was of his aspiring starlets. The Disney version of Mighty Joe Young edited out the heart of the 1949 version in favor of a less obvious morality play and more schmaltz and pretty vistas. I don't have as clear a picture of the 1998 version as I do of the 1949 version. The earlier version remains as clear as the first time I saw it on late night TV. It often seems like harsh realities and the clear black and white of earlier days has given way to technology and a movie that tests well with audiences that are not favorably disposed toward the real grit and dirt of getting down to the nitty gritty. Such is life and, one supposes, and the art of story telling in the 20th and 21st centuries.

I am in the minority with my insistence on facts and reality, but then I have no problem with talking (and singing) chipmunks and anthropomorphized ducks, dogs, mice, and various other animals. Go figure.

That is all. Disperse.

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