"Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson brings the familiar story of King Kong back to the big screen. This famous story transcends time -- not just because of the eternal subject of love between a brute and a beautiful woman -- but also because of Jackson's mega-Hollywood production and some digital magic. Like the original, this movie is a blockbuster, and for good reason. Penelope Poulou reports.
NAT SOUND ANN AND CARL AT DINNER
Carl: "Ann I want you to imagine a handsome explorer bound for the Far East. On board ship he meets a mysterious girl. She's beautiful, she's fragile, and she can't escape the feeling that forces beyond her control are compelling her down a road from which she cannot draw back.
New York, 1933. In the middle of the Great Depression, Carl Denham, an ambitious, manipulative and charming filmmaker, wants to leave his mark on the world by making an extravagant movie on an uncharted South Pacific island. Jack convinces Ann Darrow, a beautiful but unknown actress, to join him on the long journey.
Although Ann does not know exactly where they are headed or how treacherous the journey will prove to be, she accepts because ultimately, she doesn't have much to lose. She is starving, struggling, lonely and desperate.
Vendor: "Hey!!!" You got to pay for this."
Carl: "Excuse me! Ma'am, I think you dropped this."
Actor Jack Black plays Carl Denham.
Something about her, and I just know instantly she's going to be amazing for this role."
Actress Naomi Watts interprets Ann Darrel. She says that in spite of her character's fragile appearance, Ann shares Denham's adventuresome spirit.
"She is a street kid. She's been through the worst, she knows how to protect herself.
Captain of the ship: "So you are ready for this voyage Miss Darryl? "
Ann: Nervous? No. Should I be?"
From the outset of the journey, King Kong director Peter Jackson builds suspense. We see the thick fog and hear the crew's whispers. Looming soon is Skull Island, a lonely dot in the ocean where, according to legend, a huge wall is erected to contain something big and terrifying. This is where Denham has chosen to make his movie. But, unlike the fictitious director, Peter Jackson says he would never set sail to make a movie.
NAT SOUND - PETER JACKSON
"I get seasick .... very bad sea sickness and I couldn't imagine anything more horrific than shooting on a real boat. So, we built a large section of the Venture, probably half the vessel, which we put on our parking lot, firmly on dry land.
Only the humans in King Kong are real. Everything else is created in a carpentry shop or on a digital screen.
"I wanted Skull island to be the most hellish, torturous jungle that anyone could ever possibly imagine in a sense it had to be something we created. I didn't want it to be a location where we could all jump on a bus and drive to Skull Island to make our movie."
On Skull Island, Ann is abducted by the natives and offered as a sacrifice to King Kong. But the beast does not kill her. He protects her and finally falls in love with her. Naomi Watts describes the relationship between Kong and Ann as tender, complex and deep. But she says interacting with what was -- to her on the set, an imaginary ape -- was a challenge.
"First of all, when you sign on you're doing this role and you're going to be playing a good two-thirds of the movie opposite King Kong. What does this mean? O.K I'm thinking all right, well, I will be looking at things like this, with a mark on it (blue screen) like a stick. And just pretend there is a great connection." (OUT 30:28)
To help her out, Peter Jackson hired actor Andy Serkis, to stand in for the mighty gorilla.
"I wanted to play everything for real as a character. Every single time so, that she has something totally real to respond to.
It was an incredibly reciprocal relationship.
Even with the incredible special effects, Peter Jackson's "King Kong" is a faithful adaptation of the original 1930s movie.
"I wanted to pay tribute to the original King Kong by having a fight with a Tyrannosaurus. I mean this is one of the most memorable sequences, ever put into film in some respect.
But according to the filmmaker, the most daunting challenge was creating an exact replica of New York City in the 1930s, then setting King Kong loose in the middle of it, spreading panic as he rampages through the city in search of his loved one.
Most of us know how the story ends. The monstrous ape is vanquished by his own emotions. But as old as the story is, Peter Jackson's digitally enhanced adaptation and a masterful performance by the cast capture our imagination anew. [sign-off])