Man has always been fascinated by the idea that gigantic creatures once roamed “our” planet. The term ‘dinosaurs’, meaning ‘terrible lizards’, was only coined in the 1840s, and the study thereof, led to the Bone Wars in the early 1900s. This was around the same time that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the influential novel The Lost World, depicting an expedition uncovering an Amazon plateau where dinosaurs still exist.
Hollywood entrenched this enchantment with giant beasts and mythical islands when Doyle’s spellbinding adventure was adapted to film using stop-motion visuals in 1925. Yet, it was only when film-makers introduced these monoliths to the city, that the biggest, most notorious and destructive of movie monsters emerged.
Filmmaker, Merian C Cooper, became obsessed with the idea of a “terror gorilla picture” during a Congo film expedition around 1929. His jungle-to-skyscraper vision crystalised into the universally acclaimed King Kong in 1933. The nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki sent shockwaves throughout Japan, causing widespread anxiety and fear about radiation, which reached its peak at the time Ishirô Honda unleashed Godzilla in 1954. Conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons, and originally envisaged as a crossover of kujira (whale) and gorira (gorilla), there were strong parallels with Kong. Both famous for their sheer size, panic-inducing city rampage and each a “King”, the inevitable showdown eventually happened in King Kong vs. Godzilla in 1962.
Having grown up with Spielberg’s landmark ’90s film Jurassic Park, it’s easy to understand why this generation is experiencing a monster movie revival. What started as a string of cheesy b-movies became official when Legendary Entertainment initiated their MonsterVerse with a seismic reboot of Godzilla in 2014. The breath taking and spectacular Kong: Skull Island arrived earlier this year and an epic head-to-head battle Godzilla vs. Kong is planned for 2020.
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