It’s good to be King (Kong)!

If you haven’t seen the original 1933 version of King Kong, run down to your local video emporium and pick up the new 2-DVD Special Edition, released earlier this year.

First and most importantly, the newly restored Kong looks fantastic. Many lost or censored scenes have been added back in — and they’ve been taken from a recently discovered UK print of the film, rather than from grainy 16mm reprints. The music has been remastered, and it’s wonderful, although still in mono.

I was really amazed by how much I got into this movie. I have to come clean: I’d never seen the original in its entirety. I’d seen bits and pieces here and there — I think it’s just about impossible not to have seen the Empire State Building sequence at some point in your life — but never the whole thing. And here comes an understatement: It’s a great movie. A little hammy where the acting is concerned, but I actually find that a plus, not a minus. After all, this was a monster movie made in 1932. It’s supposed to be hammy!

The second DVD contains two documentaries — one about director Marion C. Cooper, and another 2.5-hour documentary about the making of the film, produced by Peter Jackson, who directed the new King Kong movie and a little indie fantasy trilogy called Lord of the Rings. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. This latter documentary contains all the standard “making of” stuff, plus the kind of detail and extra effort only found when fans talk about their favorite films. The coolest bit? Peter Jackson and the WETA Digital crew use 1932 technology and stop-motion animation to recreate the classic lost “Spider Pit” scene, removed from the original film because it was too shocking.

Two documentaries, one classic film. This set should be in everyone’s collection.

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