A distinctive urban publisher since 1941

Wayne State University Press

0 items
i

Tracking King Kong

A Hollywood Icon in World Culture, 2nd Edition

Cynthia Erb

By WSU Faculty, Film History, Film Theory and Criticism, Filmmakers, Popular Culture

Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series

HOLIDAY SALE! Save 40% on every order with coupon code HOL7.
Paperback
Published: April 2009
ISBN: 9780814334300
Pages: 336 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 15 black and white images
eBOOK
Published: April 2009
ISBN: 9780814337424
Review

One of the best books written about a horror film and one of the best contributions to film reception studies.

— Robert Spadoni

In Tracking King Kong Cynthia Erb charts the cultural significance of the character of King Kong, from the early 1930s, when Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack’s classic film King Kong was first released, to Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake. Although King Kong has received much academic attention over the past twenty-five years, the bulk of these analyses deal with the film’s human characters rather than Kong himself. In this revised edition of an influential study, Erb argues that King Kong is a particular kind of cultural outsider who represents a cross-penetration of American notions of exoticism and monstrosity. Tracking King Kong considers problems such as race and gender in the King Kong tradition, as well as historical, international, and contemporary audience and fan responses to this classic film and its popular protagonist.

Erb begins her examination of King Kong in the 1930s, when the original film was produced and released, extending through the 1970s, when the film and its hero reached the height of their cultural visibility in a remake by Dino De Laurentiis, and concluding with a look at Peter Jackson’s version in 2005. The book includes a detailed production history of the original 1933 film based on primary historical and archival sources; a genre study examining Kong’s relations to horror, jungle adventure, and travel documentary genres; an analysis of Kong’s influence on the Japanese film Godzilla; and a look at sequels, remakes, and spinoffs related to King Kong, such as Mighty Joe Young. Erb also analyzes Jackson’s remake of King Kong, to determine how and why Jackson revised the main character, casting him as a melancholy hero.

The revised edition of Tracking King Kong updates a groundbreaking study of King Kong as the iconic character enters the twenty-first century. Scholars of film and television studies as well as general readers interested in film and popular culture will appreciate this significant volume.

Cynthia Erb is associate professor of film and English at Wayne State University.

How wonderful to have Cynthia Erb's Tracking King Kong updated. Added to the first edition's remarkable insights and methodological syntheses is a definitive reading of Peter Jackson's remake. Demonstrating that film's intricacy and arguing that it is a quintessential example of melancholic cinema, Erb expertly tracks the cultural fate of Kong into the present and beyond. An extraordinary contribution to film studies."

– James Morrison, author of Roman Polanski

Tracking King Kong: Second Edition expands upon Erb's earlier book by exploring the persistence of the giant ape as a cultural icon in the popular imagination, seen especially in the recent cinematic remakes. Her nuanced and original analysis of the 1933 production and its reception across time in view of race, gender, queer, and postcolonialist issues make this a must-read for cinema scholars and enthusiasts alike."

– Merrill Schleier, author of Skyscraper Cinema: Architecture and Gender in American Film

A work of insight, scholarship, and substance, 'Tracking King Kong' is informed, informative, and a highly recommended, core addition to academic library Film Studies history and reference collections."

– The Midwest Book Review

One of the best books written about a horror film and one of the best contributions to film reception studies. I don't know of a book that brings these two areas together more richly than Tracking King Kong. Erb combines dazzling historical research with a clear and engaging prose style to make her book refreshing for the academic reader and a pleasure for every sort of reader. The most ardent lover of the original King Kong will learn new things about the film's enduring impact and its myriad cultural manifestations."

– Robert Spadoni, author of Uncanny Bodies: The Coming of Sound Film and the Origins of the Horror Genre

One of the best books written about a horror film and one of the best contributions to film reception studies. I don't know of a book that brings these two areas together more richly than Tracking King Kong. Erb combines dazzling historical research with a clear and engaging prose style to make her book refreshing for the academic reader and a pleasure for every sort of reader. The most ardent lover of the original King Kong will learn new things about the film's enduring impact and its myriad cultural manifestations.

– Robert Spadoni, author of Uncanny Bodies: The Coming of Sound Film and the Origins of the Horror Genre