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May 1996, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
"Guillermo E. Cifuentes" <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 4 May 1996 21:35:26 GMT
Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY (USA)
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Peter Latham ([log in to unmask]) wrote:
: I was impressed with the images of the "beast" (as in "beauty and the __"),
: and that of the "noble savage" which permeate the film.
: That led me to compare the film to KING KONG in which an equally noble (but
: less articulate) "beast" dominates another vulnerable blond (Fay Wray, not
: Jodie Foster).It seemed to me that the major difference in subtext between
: the two films is that KONG dies and TRAVIS lives.
There is in my opinion another *major* difference. Although I agree that
on some level Kong and Travis are depicted as "noble" (i.e un-corrupted,
innocent) beasts, the reason that Travis lives is not so much that he is
more articulate but that his violent behaviour is raised to heroic
stature. Several differences arise from this perspective, for example,
Kong is "dark" (literally, but also because he is from Africa, and thus both
physically and metaphorically an "animal"), Travis is light (he is white,
he is American). But in any case, while Kong's death reads as a comment
on the inability of the Western World to allow the beast, its inability
to understand the nobility of the savage; Travis' survival reads instead
as a comment on American Society's endorsment and idolization of
violence, its ability to read nobility into its own beast and to praise
fascist cleansing frenzy (albeit innocently pursued) as heroic statu quo
defense. In both cases the beast is a romantic figure, but in a way,
Travis' survival is equivalent to Kong's death in that they amount to a
supression: physical for the gorilla, through normalization for the driver.
Wishing I had more time,
Guillermo Cifuentes
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