Ed Driscoll

RKO #601

The Digital Bits has a sneak peak of a DVD release that I’m eagerly awaiting as well–and so are you, if you love Hollywood’s golden era–the 1930s and 40s:

I’ve just gotten my first look at Warner’s new King Kong: Special Edition (due on 11/22) and I HAD to tell you all a little bit about it. First of all, the film looks amazing. This restoraton is really impressive – I’m betting Kong hasn’t looked better since its original 1933 theatrical release. I haven’t listened to the audio commentary yet, nor have I looked at the documentary about Merian C. Cooper. But I’ll tell you… the 7-part RKO Production 601 documentary is outstanding. You get a really in-depth history of the film itself, as well as a look the producers and the production, complete with new interviews with film historians (like Rudy Behlmer, Bob Burns), filmmakers (Peter Jackson, Frank Darabont, etc) and special effects experts (Ray Harryhausen, Ken Ralston, Phil Tippett and others), as well as a look at original photographs, production artwork and more vintage materials. But here’s what’s really great – specifically for this DVD release, Jackson and his crew at WETA (who, as you know, have been working on their own remake of King Kong, which hits theaters next month), worked to build – in exacting detail – replicas of many of the original stop-motion miniatures from the 1933 film, and to recreate footage using the original effects production process. The result of this is that when they’re talking about how the original Kong was made, you actually get to SEE the process in action! The folks at Pellerin Multimedia and Sparkhill were able to document the effort as Jackson’s animators worked with their new, meticulously recreated Kong puppet, on a multi-layered miniature set that’s a nearly exact duplicate of one created for the original film. It’s VERY cool to see, let me tell you. As you may know, Jackson also tasked his effects crew with recreating the lost “Spider Pit” sequence for this DVD release. Their work was never intended to be edited back into the film, but simply to give you a sense of what that lost footage MIGHT have looked like. It’s a joy to see. In fact, this DVD release is just a really special piece of work – something that’s clearly made by die-hard Kong fans, for die-hard Kong fans. You’re going to love it. I think it was well worth the wait.

It streets November 22nd, or you can order it direct from Amazon.com.