King Kong
Kong Unbound

Author: Various
Pocket Books
RRP 7.99
ISBN 1 4165 2215 8
Available 07 November 2005

Kong Unbound
proudly sports an Official Movie Merchandise sticker, a bold statement and one that is usually kept for art and script books. This is no such beast, for once officialdom appears to have moved away from the usual tat to produce a book that is full of reminiscences, whimsy and thoughtful insights.

The book contains sixteen essays by some of the greatest living science fiction writers and creators, who are old enough to remember the impact of seeing the original 1933 King Kong. Like most forms of entertainment, many of the writers took differing thoughts and feelings away from the experience of Kong, though most are willing to agree that the experience had a profound effect on their chosen professions. Well, to be fair it would have been unlikely that any publishing house would have put out a book espousing the idea that the 1933 film was a load of old tat, no money in that me hearties.

So is it any good? Although more light-hearted and personal, the essays, are more like those found in serious book on film making. That said the editors have obviously let the authors have full reign over what they wanted to write. And what writers they found Ray Bradbury, Harry Harrison and David Gerrold to name a few.

Paul Di Filippo ponders how the retelling of a myth often brings just diminishing returns; whilst, Robert Silverberg explores the genesis of the myth that is Kong. There are many truly wacky essays that treat Ann Darrow as a real character, rather than one played by Fay Wray, as well as the usual explorations around the ideas of Kong as rape fantasy.

Is Kong a metaphor for white supremacy, or the destruction of the vital and animalistic spirit of man through continued industrialisation or just a dodgy old film with a rather nice partially clothed Fay Wray running round screaming I'll leave that up to you? But within this book you'll find many ideas to challenge and illuminate your experience of watching King Kong.

On the down side the editors really should have given over just one essay to how the film came to be made, too many of the writers include this information, which often spoils, what otherwise are great essays. That aside this is a book for lovers of films who demand a little more thoughtful approach to the often too passive joy of watching movies.

Charles Packer

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