If there are two films that have truly endured the every changing diversity of entertainment in this country from the time of their creation all the way to present day, they would have to be King Kong (1933) and The Wizard of Oz (1939). Both films are landmarks in our countries history of motion pictures. They have been highly influential to the movie industry and they deserve recognition for what they have given us.
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King Kongs release delivered more than just a good movie, it was proof of the endless potential that films now had, thanks to the rapidly improving technologies that were sought and funded by the movie industry. The movies main character was not an actor, but in fact a fictional beast, a giant gorilla, that could only exist in the movies; this captured the publics attention because it was the first film that brought to life a mythological creature who exhibited human emotion using stop motion animation. Watching King Kong, you dont see the lifeless object that was utilized to represent an œalive King Kong, you see a beast of epic proportion, and you see it alive, with emotion and power.
The Wizard of Oz also had an enormous impact on the movie industry and its fans. The film was one of the first to use color, and also made use of cutting edge technologies such as the terrifying œtornado (a natural phenomenon never directly experienced by the majority of viewers) that swept Dorothy into the magical Land of Oz. Its an iconic American Story, where there is drama, emotion, danger, and most importantly, a happy ending. It has all the key ingredients, including an innocent young women on a quest, an adorable small dog, black and white magic representing the Christian battle ground of good and evil, an most satisfactorily, the ultimate triumph of good over evil. The movie, along with its musical score, captured the imagination of a young generation and was carried with them as they grew. Arguable, every member of that generation believed that œSomewhere over the Rainbow was a better place that they could find, if they tried hard enough.
Both movies were highly successful, but probably for very different reasons, considering that they tell clearly dissimilar stories. One of the reasons that The Wizard of Oz continues to be so imbedded in our culture, is because of the almost astonishing quantity of times it has been shown on TV after the emergence of television in the 1950s. King Kong did not receive such attention from television, however its influence was not because of its musical score, or a œhappy ending; no, King Kong presented a unique love story between a vulnerable beast and a human female, that captured the imagination of the public and would not be forgotten.
So many movies, TV shows, and other sorts of entertainment have used ideas based on one of these two films that if you are looking for them, you can find direct references to the films in no time at all. For example the Simpsons have made tributes to both films over the years, although it should be noted that the Simpsons have made tributes to pretty much everything that was every done! But its not just direct references that people have taken from these movies, also much smaller, and more basic ideas. A good example would be the film Godzilla, which took the idea of a larger then life monster from King Kong and wrote a storyline around it.
Both King Kong and The Wizard of Oz have made their mark in our culture, and we continue to be fascinated by there storylines. Ultimately both films endure, a long with their respective technological innovations, both story lines tap deep into the American psyche. Puritan America has long embarrassed the myth of the savage but noble beast worshiping the virginal blond, and has equally embraced the innocent teenage girl fighting the wicked witch with the aid of her feisty dog Toto and her eccentric friends, in her ultimately successful quest to make her way home. Each movie brings about its own individual aspects, which not only makes it brilliant, but memorable as well, and its the films we remember that influence us long after then credits finish and the lights come on.
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