23 July 2011


Locus Focus: Take Sixty-One!

Welcome to Distant Isles: The Movie Edition!
(Remember that next week is Wizarding World Day!)

Some Saturdays are better than others. I don't know what this one is.

Last week, I didn't feel competent to write about any island setting but the one in a Juvenile Series novel I wouldn't even pass on to a child. (Yes, last Saturday was that bad.) And of course I now wish I could do it all over again, with a setting like Jonathan Swift's floating island of Laputa. But we have moved on and now it's time for the Movie Edition.

You might be wondering why I can't be a bit sneaky and use a certain screen adaptation of Gulliver's Travels to write about that setting, anyway. Well, it's because I decided early on that I wanted an island that didn't exist in any book before it existed in a movie. (Hi, Kate!) And after ruling out some of the best islands ever to grace the big screen (taken from or inspired by the books of Michael Crichton, William Golding, Ian Fleming and even Henry de Vere Stacpoole), I realised there was only one way to go . . .

"Skull Island"
King Kong
We came here to make a picture, and we've found something worth more than all the pictures in the world!

It was my good friend The Mike of the movie blog From Midnight with Love (You already read him, right???) who recommended the island setting of King Kong. I confess that I initially dismissed the idea. Having grown up watching only the 1976 remake (Yes, I'm properly embarrassed), I didn't think there was anything special enough about "Skull Island" to merit an entire Locus Focus post. And I would have continued wallowing in my cinematic ignorance had I not decided, on a complete whim, to watch the 1933 original.

To say I was blown away would be an understatement.

There are so many things to say about the first (and still the best) King Kong, and someday I'll write a Twelve Things post that will look at the film in more detail. In the meantime, the two things you really need to know are: a) "Skull Island" is probably the best movie island of all time; and b) the exact name "Skull Island" is never mentioned in either of the first two movies (!!!). I once wrote about "scripture" and "tradition" in Jane Austen, and it gives me much pleasure to take my second example from a movie that has both dinosaurs and a giant ape.

I really love the Lost World element of this setting. In the span of half an hour, we see our heroes endangered by a stampeding stegosaurus, a bloodthirsty brontosaurus (Hahahahahaha!), a giant serpent, and even a pteranodon thrown in for good measure. Oh, yeah, and Kong, too. =P It makes you wonder what other megafauna call "Skull Island" home. Why, oh, why did the crew leave this paradise so soon for the film's other island setting, Manhattan?

Yes, "Skull Island" could have totally carried an entire series. Think TV's Land of the Lost. But perhaps it is best that we get only this one glimpse of it. Think J.M. Barrie's Neverland. And keep thinking that, for Neverland and "Skull Island" are indeed very much alike--except that this one is no place for children.

Here we have island natives instead of the Redskins (Spare me the PC indignation; this is genre!) and fearsome dinosaurs instead of the wild beasts . . . but a completely different arrangement of heroes and villains. You see, while the crew of the Venture are arguably the pirates in this "paradise," they are also our heroes. Which means that this story's Peter Pan is . . . King Kong. (I'll bet you didn't see that coming! I know I didn't!)

Sometimes I wish King Kong had left the "Lost World" intact at the end, the adventurers sailing back home without their twenty-ton souvenir. And then other explorers could have their own exciting encounters with him in the future. But this isn't that kind of story.

Oh, one last thing: King Kong has a Wendy figure, too, in Ann Darrow. But this time nobody is interested in her solely as a mother. =P

Now it's your turn!
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D

This Week's Other Locus Focus:

Isla Nublar of Jurassic Park @ All That Shaz

Image Source: King King poster


Syrin said...

I too was pleasantly surprised by the original King Kong. The effects and the storytelling are truly timeless. You're making me want to watch it again.

Kate said...

Hi En! :)

I hate to say it, but I've never seen any of the various King Kong versions. Sad, isn't it?

Also sad to say that I don't have any offerings this week as well...

Shaz said...

Sorry I'm a bit late in linking.

I like your choice of island. I'm a big fan of old films and have seen the original King Kong many times.

Enbrethiliel said...


Syrin -- It's so great! I'm not sure why the filmmakers behind the 1976 version wanted to remake it when all they did was use updated versions of the same technology . . . and an obvious man in an ape suit. =/ (The environmentalist agenda? Sigh! It seems timeless because the earth will always be with us, but it was the first thing to get dated.)

Kate -- Very, very sad! I'm glad you know it. =P

But the good news is that you can enjoy watching the original King Kong for the first time as early as tomorrow! =D

(Well, what are you waiting for???)

Shaz -- Thanks for linking up! I love your choice of island, too. In fact, I almost worked it into this post. =P Isla Nublar is more of a manmade "Lost World," though.