King Kong makes return visit to New York

King Kong has captivated New Yorkers since he first stepped foot in the city, quickly taking on legendary status with his building-scaling, blonde-loving ways.

He is such a legend that that some movie fans occasionally speak of him as if he is more than myth. He is so huge here that some history professors use him to study New York’s past.

So on Monday, when the remake of the 1933 classic film premiered in New York, the city predictably went a little ape with nostalgia for the gigantic gorilla.

The hairy creature took a seat of honour in Times Square, growled from billboards throughout town, and was the guest of honor at parties, including one booked at the Empire State Building—the structure he famously climbed while carrying Fay Wray in the original movie.

“I always kind of felt there’s like this twisted love relationship between King Kong and Fay Wray and the Empire State Building,” said Lydia Ruth, the building’s public relations director and special events coordinator.

“We made him famous or he made us famous. I’m not sure.”

William Kornblum, a professor of sociology at the graduate centre of City University of New York, said that despite being fiction, the movie did, in many ways, reflect history.

“The film used a building which symbolised the way the United States, and especially New York City, was reaching for the sky in its ambitions,” said Kornblum, a New Yorker who specialises in urban history.

Richard Pena, programme director of the Film Society of Lincoln Centre, agreed.

“It seemed, in a way, one of architecture’s noblest achievements and at the same time it was where this primitive ape climbed up,” he said.

“It was a symbol of modernity overtaken by the symbol of the primitive.”

Part of the reason the King Kong legend had so much impact was that “It came out at the right time,” said Ray Morton, author of King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon.

“The film was brand new at the same time the Empire State Building was.”

The 1976 remake of King Kong, starring Jessica Lange, placed the ape atop the World Trade Centre towers.

But the new rendition of the film, directed by Peter Jackson of The Lord of the Rings fame, takes the creature back to the Empire State Building, which, because of the tragic events of September 11, is once again New York’s tallest building.

At Times Square on Monday, a fake giant ape attracted hordes of crowds, including many tourists eager to take pictures with one of New York’s most famous visitors.

“It’s so cute! It’s adorable,” said Carol Kenner (35) of New York.

Michael Zorek, 45, a stay-at-home dad, took his three-year-old son Jeremy to check out the Times Square ape.

Jeremy told his father that King Kong didn’t seem like a kids film. But as he looked at the hairy creature in front of him, Jeremy did not appear overly impressed.

Was it scary?

“No,” Jeremy said. “It’s pretend.” - Sapa-AP