Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Kong Love

It is hard to grow up in America, or perhaps anywhere, without having the "beautiful princess" and "prince charming" fantasy ingrained in your mind well before the time you actually experience anything close to love.

I'm no exception. I was raised on the "Disney-fied" ideas of "someday my prince shall come" which morphed into other unrealistic notions of love everlasting such as the concept of a "soul mate." But it wasn't until recently that I took these ideas to the extreme. Yes, it's true: I'm in love with a 25-foot tall ape.

Don't scoff! I'm not the only one. Do you really think a vibrant, sensual and talented woman like Ann Darrow (as portrayed by Naomi Watts in Peter Jackson's 2005 update/tribute to the original King Kong) can really prefer a skinny, intellectual playwright?

While many see King Kong as an action/adventure film, for me it is a much more telling interpretation of a single gals' plight to find "Mr. Right." Bridget Jones Diary you say? Cute movie, but given the fact that Mark Darcy doesn't get shot down by planes while atop the Empire State Building, it is far from reality. (Just try imagining Colin Firth swatting at planes. I think not.)

Of course, I don't mean this literally. But like King Kong, Darcy is the image of the perfect man: Prince Charming of the modern age. Well, let me step back for a second. The thing about Mr. Darcy--the one created by Jane Austen--is that he's not perfect. He's a snob when Elizabeth meets him and too proud. But the fantasy is that a smart and interesting woman can transform him into the perfect man through love. Right.

I'd argue that King Kong is similar to Darcy, albeit with more hair. And perhaps more of a temper.

But unlike Bridget Jones (and any number of rom-com fantasies) King Kong gets it right because in the end, the film recognizes that it is just a fantasy and beauty, Ann, or really any woman who has bought into the tale, must face bitter disappointment as the romantic figure of her dreams plunges to his death. It isn't just that Kong dies, it's that Ann--a figure of doom from the start, expressing how "nothing good ever lasts"--must give up the dream of her soul mate. Love isn't perfect and she'll have to settle for dull Jack Driscoll (a well-cast Adrien Brody, despite criticism to the contrary).

I think Kong had a huge impact on me because I finally saw how I'd been searching for him in the men I chose to fall for (no pun intended). In place of an inappropriately large hairy ape and tall landmark building, I'd chosen obstacles such as an entire country's distance, or emotional gaps that could not be bridged. I entered into these situations fully aware that they were not meant to be. Like Ann, I was resigned to this fact, but held on as long as I could.

It could never work.

Beauty may have killed the beast, but it was reality that killed the romantic fantasy.

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