A little more than three months ago I begged the Warner Home Video guys to consider respectfully and tastefully degranulating their then-forthcoming Bluray of the original King Kong. Not radically, and certainly not in a way that would compromise detail, but to do what they could to diminish that blanketed feeling in certain portions of this 1933 classic, that unnecessary sensation of Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot and Fay Wray being swarmed over and bitten by a billion silvery mosquitoes.
Well, they didn’t listen.
DVD Beaver’s Gary W. Tooze has reviewed the new Kong Bluray and says that “the biggest benefactor of the move to 1080p appears to be the prevalence of the grain, which is now more consistent [and] seemingly thicker and giving off a nice textured feel…this looks much more pure [than the 2005 DVD], cleaner with stronger grain.”
Tooze sounds like an Islamic fundamentalist reading from the Koran. He isn’t saying that the Kong grain is a regrettable but unavoidable component — he’s saying the more the better. It’s beautiful! If only we could all be covered in dense mosquito storms in real life! He sounds like a heroin junkie talking about what a great human being his dealer is. I can only shake my head.
Here’s how I put it on June 11th: “Let’s hope that the WHV guys (a) haven’t recently succumbed to radical Criterion-style grain-monk theology (i.e., the home-video equivalent of Taliban fervor), (b) understand that certain portions of King Kong are simply too grainy for average eyeball consumption (particularly the scene when the freighter drops anchor off the coast of Skull Island in heavy fog), (c) further understand that Bluray only sharpens and intensifies the monochrome granules occupying a given frame, and (d) therefore came to the conclusion that they needed to hire John Lowry of Lowry Digital to de-granulate in a way that respects the integrity of the image but at the same time recognizes that a classic black-and-white film buried in an Iraqi grainstorm is a bad thing all around, and that the ghosts of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack are hovering over them like Bruno Ganz and whatsisname in Wings of Desire and quietly pleading that they do the right thing.”
The irony is that I’ll probably buy this sucker later this evening. I know a store that sells Blurays prior to their street date.