Who doesn’t love to watch giant monsters battle it out on the big screen? Creature features have long been a stalwart of Hollywood for good reason. This year, two of the biggest boys around are going to face down in
While we’re all waiting for
A giant monkey fighting a giant reptile makes a lot of sense in an era where stop motion and suits were the norm. Especially in a landscape where spectacle sells and audiences were hungry for movie monsters. Ironically, the story also aims to satirize the nature of shock TV and movie choices made by desperate execs. It all begins with a pharmaceutical company that wants to bring more attention to the shows that he sponsors. Of course, the only logical answer is to steal a massive monkey and bring it to Japan. There’s plenty of commentary here as the nefarious CEO gets jealous that Godzilla gets more press than his shows, so he attempts to usurp him with his new huge creature that he’s procured from the far-off Farou Island. But as we all know, humans can never control the beasts they capture and all hell breaks loose.
Just like the 1954
The one thing that both versions of the film share, though, is virulent racism. No matter which one you watch, you’ll find that to be true. It all comes down to Skull Island. The inhabitants of the island from where Kong hails are all portrayed by actors in brownface. The sequence plays into the nastiest and most racist “savage” stereotypes. And it’s a disappointing reminder that this kind of racism is global. When adapting the film for American audience, the studio never considered cutting out the racist sequences. Even as they cut around the rest of the film. This is one of the things that the new film will hopefully reckon with as they head back to Skull Island.
Despite there being two cuts, one of the most resounding urban legends around the film is untrue. For years it was rumored—and exacerbated due to lack of access—that in the US version Kong won and that in the Japanese cut Godzilla took the victory. In fact, in both versions Kong is the victor, leaving Godzilla’s fate unclear as he disappears under the ocean. It became such a huge pop culture legend that many thought it was true. But with both versions now available to monster-movie fans everywhere, you can see the less interesting truth for yourself. After all, who really believes that Kong could beat Godzilla? Not this writer! But that’s exactly what happened in the original matchup.
No matter which one prevails this time around, their history is a storied one. And this strange third entry into the Godzilla franchise is where it all began. Let the big boy battle (re)commence!
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