Layout of Skull Island/Was it planned in production?

Joined: July 29th, 2018, 5:18 pm

August 5th, 2018, 3:04 am #1

Anybody know if the island was further elaborated in production such as with a more detailed map or plan? Or was it some key locations bundled together in shots with only the mountain/wall/ship view connecting?
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Tim Smyth
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August 6th, 2018, 3:20 am #2

Well they filmed several scenes before a script was made, so my guess is the island formed while in production, and not fully thought out before hand.
Tim
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telegonus
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August 6th, 2018, 10:09 am #3

It seems to me a likely combination of factors, among them the fact that two RKO Radio films using many of the same sets were released in 1932, Bird Of Paradise, which I've never seen in its entirety, and The Most Dangerous Game, which I know like the back of my hand. King Kong followed, probably expanded on those sets, certainly added things, and featured more swampy and watery places on the island as well as more hilly-mountainous ones. As to the matter of just how much planning there was, how Kong's Skull Island was "mapped out" and created for the film I cannot say, wish I knew more about.

It's certainly a movie full of "add ons", reused and "redressed" sets to create a unique look for the film. As to my personal sense of all this, I have in my mind's eye a map of the Kong island, and there's a good deal more to it than we see in the film, where this is mostly implied (a smaller mountain maybe, on the other side of the island; and for all we know more humans, natives of the island, who live elsewhere and have nothing to do with the giant ape, are far enough away from the dinosaurs to not be bothered by them, etc.). I'm just tossing these ideas out, not holding to them or suggesting that these things are or ought to be on the island.
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blufeld
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August 6th, 2018, 1:30 pm #4

I would think Kong would know every inch of the island unless the wall stopped him from exploring farther, unless the other natives also made a giant door that Kong could get through.  Oh yeah.  A blonde girl.  You need a blond girl.
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telegonus
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August 6th, 2018, 6:42 pm #5

blufeld wrote: I would think Kong would know every inch of the island unless the wall stopped him from exploring farther, unless the other natives also made a giant door that Kong could get through.  Oh yeah.  A blonde girl.  You need a blond girl.
Blondes were pretty scarce around there.
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BartPierce
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August 7th, 2018, 11:00 pm #6

telegonus wrote: It seems to me a likely combination of factors, among them the fact that two RKO Radio films using many of the same sets were released in 1932, Bird Of Paradise, which I've never seen in its entirety, and The Most Dangerous Game, which I know like the back of my hand. King Kong followed, probably expanded on those sets, certainly added things, and featured more swampy and watery places on the island as well as more hilly-mountainous ones. As to the matter of just how much planning there was, how Kong's Skull Island was "mapped out" and created for the film I cannot say, wish I knew more about.

It's certainly a movie full of "add ons", reused and "redressed" sets to create a unique look for the film. As to my personal sense of all this, I have in my mind's eye a map of the Kong island, and there's a good deal more to it than we see in the film, where this is mostly implied (a smaller mountain maybe, on the other side of the island; and for all we know more humans, natives of the island, who live elsewhere and have nothing to do with the giant ape, are far enough away from the dinosaurs to not be bothered by them, etc.). I'm just tossing these ideas out, not holding to them or suggesting that these things are or ought to be on the island.
The first time we see the map of the island is in the scene on board ship as Denham describes the Great Wall to Driscoll and the Skipper. These scenes were not shot until the onboard ship sets had been constructed and became available in September 1932. Most of the jungle scenes were all shot earlier, starting in July 1932 (and before that for the test reel) before the MDG and BOP sets were struck/destroyed. So the actual map of Skull Island was finally visualized only after most of the live-action jungle footage had been shot. Apparently, the small peninsula that was walled off from the rest of Skull Island was first mentioned in the last Creelman script before Ruth Rose had taken it over. I imagine that prior to that, there was no wall or peninsula required for the script.
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telegonus
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August 7th, 2018, 11:29 pm #7

Thanks, Bart. Fascinating. I guess they really sometimes did make movies up while they were filming them (sort of). KK owes a lot to those earlier pictures from 1932. It was a very costly production to begin with. I can't imagine how Cooper & Schoedsak could have afforded to make it from scratch without those jungle sets.
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BartPierce
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August 8th, 2018, 12:13 am #8

It was the height of the depression and Cooper had been brought in by Selznick to get costs under control and he worked very hard to keep KONG's budget under control for Selznick. I mean, geez, he shot the entire log scene and the T-Rex fight for $10,000. He later complained that the budget was much lower (almost half) than what was posted until the studio decided to tack on all of the costs of O'Brien's previous project, CREATION, as developmental expenses toward the making of KONG.
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telegonus
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August 8th, 2018, 7:47 am #9

BartPierce wrote: It was the height of the depression and Cooper had been brought in by Selznick to get costs under control and he worked very hard to keep KONG's budget under control for Selznick. I mean, geez, he shot the entire log scene and the T-Rex fight for $10,000. He later complained that the budget was much lower (almost half) than what was posted until the studio decided to tack on all of the costs of O'Brien's previous project, CREATION, as developmental expenses toward the making of KONG.
It's amazing how well things worked out with King Kong considering all the problems it faced, from pre-production right to the film's final scene. It's larger than life from the git, and it never lets up, even in the (so called) slow scenes; the exposition and all that. The movie still rocks like no other.
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Joined: November 10th, 2004, 5:32 am

August 8th, 2018, 9:49 am #10



- GJS
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blufeld
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August 8th, 2018, 12:53 pm #11

Some observations:  Where did this come from?  I was under the impression that the island was never called "Skull Island" in the '33 movie (I've never heard in the movie.)  Kinda like the term "ghouls" became "zombies" after NOTLD, the fans spread the zombie craze.  In the movies, zombie was used one time (I think in DAWN).  I think Skull Island, by default, became that by the audience calling that.  Is it Skull Island in SON OF KONG?  '76 KK?

Where is the river, or stream, or lake that Driscoll and Ann drop into when Kong is pulling them up (would want to be Driscoll if Kong gets them).  There is a Apes**t Lake (can't read it), but it looks to be too far.

It answers a question I had:  The wall only covers the peninsula (the rest of the island was protected by the sea, with no way to disembark -the island was sheer cliffs).
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Godziwolf
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August 8th, 2018, 1:41 pm #12

blufeld wrote: Some observations:  Where did this come from?  I was under the impression that the island was never called "Skull Island" in the '33 movie (I've never heard in the movie.)  Kinda like the term "ghouls" became "zombies" after NOTLD, the fans spread the zombie craze.  In the movies, zombie was used one time (I think in DAWN).  I think Skull Island, by default, became that by the audience calling that.  Is it Skull Island in SON OF KONG?  '76 KK?

Where is the river, or stream, or lake that Driscoll and Ann drop into when Kong is pulling them up (would want to be Driscoll if Kong gets them).  There is a Apes**t Lake (can't read it), but it looks to be too far.

It answers a question I had:  The wall only covers the peninsula (the rest of the island was protected by the sea, with no way to disembark -the island was sheer cliffs).
That's "Asphalt Lake".

Interesting, it shows Enggano Island on the edge of the map. That's a real island, off the southwest coast of Sumatra.
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Joined: July 29th, 2018, 5:18 pm

August 8th, 2018, 10:55 pm #13

BartPierce wrote:
telegonus wrote: It seems to me a likely combination of factors, among them the fact that two RKO Radio films using many of the same sets were released in 1932, Bird Of Paradise, which I've never seen in its entirety, and The Most Dangerous Game, which I know like the back of my hand. King Kong followed, probably expanded on those sets, certainly added things, and featured more swampy and watery places on the island as well as more hilly-mountainous ones. As to the matter of just how much planning there was, how Kong's Skull Island was "mapped out" and created for the film I cannot say, wish I knew more about.

It's certainly a movie full of "add ons", reused and "redressed" sets to create a unique look for the film. As to my personal sense of all this, I have in my mind's eye a map of the Kong island, and there's a good deal more to it than we see in the film, where this is mostly implied (a smaller mountain maybe, on the other side of the island; and for all we know more humans, natives of the island, who live elsewhere and have nothing to do with the giant ape, are far enough away from the dinosaurs to not be bothered by them, etc.). I'm just tossing these ideas out, not holding to them or suggesting that these things are or ought to be on the island.
The first time we see the map of the island is in the scene on board ship as Denham describes the Great Wall to Driscoll and the Skipper. These scenes were not shot until the onboard ship sets had been constructed and became available in September 1932. Most of the jungle scenes were all shot earlier, starting in July 1932 (and before that for the test reel) before the MDG and BOP sets were struck/destroyed. So the actual map of Skull Island was finally visualized only after most of the live-action jungle footage had been shot. Apparently, the small peninsula that was walled off from the rest of Skull Island was first mentioned in the last Creelman script before Ruth Rose had taken it over. I imagine that prior to that, there was no wall or peninsula required for the script.
Interesting! Also in that scene we see two different versions of the map.
TwoDifferentMaps.jpg
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Joined: July 29th, 2018, 5:18 pm

August 8th, 2018, 10:59 pm #14

telegonus wrote: It seems to me a likely combination of factors, among them the fact that two RKO Radio films using many of the same sets were released in 1932, Bird Of Paradise, which I've never seen in its entirety, and The Most Dangerous Game, which I know like the back of my hand. King Kong followed, probably expanded on those sets, certainly added things, and featured more swampy and watery places on the island as well as more hilly-mountainous ones. As to the matter of just how much planning there was, how Kong's Skull Island was "mapped out" and created for the film I cannot say, wish I knew more about.

It's certainly a movie full of "add ons", reused and "redressed" sets to create a unique look for the film. As to my personal sense of all this, I have in my mind's eye a map of the Kong island, and there's a good deal more to it than we see in the film, where this is mostly implied (a smaller mountain maybe, on the other side of the island; and for all we know more humans, natives of the island, who live elsewhere and have nothing to do with the giant ape, are far enough away from the dinosaurs to not be bothered by them, etc.). I'm just tossing these ideas out, not holding to them or suggesting that these things are or ought to be on the island.
The wall set was also from the 1927 'King of Kings'. It was originally the Temple of Solomon in Old Jerusalem. The wooden gate,scaffolding and other details were added to it and the romanesque pillars were broken up to create ruins.
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Joined: July 29th, 2018, 5:18 pm

August 8th, 2018, 11:04 pm #15

blufeld wrote: Some observations:  Where did this come from?  I was under the impression that the island was never called "Skull Island" in the '33 movie (I've never heard in the movie.)  Kinda like the term "ghouls" became "zombies" after NOTLD, the fans spread the zombie craze.  In the movies, zombie was used one time (I think in DAWN).  I think Skull Island, by default, became that by the audience calling that.  Is it Skull Island in SON OF KONG?  '76 KK?

Where is the river, or stream, or lake that Driscoll and Ann drop into when Kong is pulling them up (would want to be Driscoll if Kong gets them).  There is a Apes**t Lake (can't read it), but it looks to be too far.

It answers a question I had:  The wall only covers the peninsula (the rest of the island was protected by the sea, with no way to disembark -the island was sheer cliffs).
Found a copy of that map on this site. But it only says "Skull Island by Captain Cook" what the heck? I'm guessing it's an illustration from a book. Although it's visually nice. The jungle seems far too small and peninsula too big. With not enough room in-between the jungle and the mountain as seen on the cliff scenes on the film and the official map that is placed down on the table.
http://www.erbzine.com/mag36/3649.html
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telegonus
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August 9th, 2018, 6:24 pm #16

Godziwolf wrote:
blufeld wrote: Some observations:  Where did this come from?  I was under the impression that the island was never called "Skull Island" in the '33 movie (I've never heard in the movie.)  Kinda like the term "ghouls" became "zombies" after NOTLD, the fans spread the zombie craze.  In the movies, zombie was used one time (I think in DAWN).  I think Skull Island, by default, became that by the audience calling that.  Is it Skull Island in SON OF KONG?  '76 KK?

Where is the river, or stream, or lake that Driscoll and Ann drop into when Kong is pulling them up (would want to be Driscoll if Kong gets them).  There is a Apes**t Lake (can't read it), but it looks to be too far.

It answers a question I had:  The wall only covers the peninsula (the rest of the island was protected by the sea, with no way to disembark -the island was sheer cliffs).
That's "Asphalt Lake".

Interesting, it shows Enggano Island on the edge of the map. That's a real island, off the southwest coast of Sumatra.
That seems awfully close for another island, or any land whatsoever. on that map. I always think of the island, whatever its actual name, as way out in the sea, probably several hundred miles from the nearest body of land, maybe a thousand miles or more. Isolation has always struck me as the key to the island, its natives and Kong's utter uniqueness. Also, and FWIW, on a personal note, that island has always vibed Pacific, or maybe China sea or some other sea, not Indian ocean. The way it's presented in the movie feels very "South Seas" to me. Maybe the Indian ocean could be a good enough "stand-in" for that, yet it never sounds (or feels) quite right to me. Also, that back lot island was "planted" for films with more Pacific-type settings, although I suppose a tropic island can just be a tropical island in any movie, and the one used in Most Dangerous Game, Bird Of Paradise and the Kong pictures could just as well have been the San Sebastian of the same studio's I Walked With A Zombie
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Godziwolf
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August 9th, 2018, 9:05 pm #17

telegonus wrote:
Godziwolf wrote:
blufeld wrote: Some observations:  Where did this come from?  I was under the impression that the island was never called "Skull Island" in the '33 movie (I've never heard in the movie.)  Kinda like the term "ghouls" became "zombies" after NOTLD, the fans spread the zombie craze.  In the movies, zombie was used one time (I think in DAWN).  I think Skull Island, by default, became that by the audience calling that.  Is it Skull Island in SON OF KONG?  '76 KK?

Where is the river, or stream, or lake that Driscoll and Ann drop into when Kong is pulling them up (would want to be Driscoll if Kong gets them).  There is a Apes**t Lake (can't read it), but it looks to be too far.

It answers a question I had:  The wall only covers the peninsula (the rest of the island was protected by the sea, with no way to disembark -the island was sheer cliffs).
That's "Asphalt Lake".

Interesting, it shows Enggano Island on the edge of the map. That's a real island, off the southwest coast of Sumatra.
That seems awfully close for another island, or any land whatsoever. on that map. I always think of the island, whatever its actual name, as way out in the sea, probably several hundred miles from the nearest body of land, maybe a thousand miles or more. Isolation has always struck me as the key to the island, its natives and Kong's utter uniqueness. Also, and FWIW, on a personal note, that island has always vibed Pacific, or maybe China sea or some other sea, not Indian ocean. The way it's presented in the movie feels very "South Seas" to me. Maybe the Indian ocean could be a good enough "stand-in" for that, yet it never sounds (or feels) quite right to me. Also, that back lot island was "planted" for films with more Pacific-type settings, although I suppose a tropic island can just be a tropical island in any movie, and the one used in Most Dangerous Game, Bird Of Paradise and the Kong pictures could just as well have been the San Sebastian of the same studio's I Walked With A Zombie.
I agree Enggano seems too close.

However, I disagree with the Pacific feel. Englehorn mentions being familiar with the East Indies, but not being there. Denham came across the story in Singapore, and they are way of Sumatra.

Also: Cooper's previous films were set in Persia (Grass), Thailand (Chang), Papua New Guinea (Gow), and Egypt and Sudan (setting only, Four Feathers). His interests seemed to lie around the Indian Ocean.

If you have black people on your island, you're not east of Papua.
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telegonus
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August 9th, 2018, 11:33 pm #18

Godziwolf wrote:
telegonus wrote:
Godziwolf wrote:
That's "Asphalt Lake".

Interesting, it shows Enggano Island on the edge of the map. That's a real island, off the southwest coast of Sumatra.
That seems awfully close for another island, or any land whatsoever. on that map. I always think of the island, whatever its actual name, as way out in the sea, probably several hundred miles from the nearest body of land, maybe a thousand miles or more. Isolation has always struck me as the key to the island, its natives and Kong's utter uniqueness. Also, and FWIW, on a personal note, that island has always vibed Pacific, or maybe China sea or some other sea, not Indian ocean. The way it's presented in the movie feels very "South Seas" to me. Maybe the Indian ocean could be a good enough "stand-in" for that, yet it never sounds (or feels) quite right to me. Also, that back lot island was "planted" for films with more Pacific-type settings, although I suppose a tropic island can just be a tropical island in any movie, and the one used in Most Dangerous Game, Bird Of Paradise and the Kong pictures could just as well have been the San Sebastian of the same studio's I Walked With A Zombie.
I agree Enggano seems too close.

However, I disagree with the Pacific feel. Englehorn mentions being familiar with the East Indies, but not being there. Denham came across the story in Singapore, and they are way of Sumatra.

Also: Cooper's previous films were set in Persia (Grass), Thailand (Chang), Papua New Guinea (Gow), and Egypt and Sudan (setting only, Four Feathers). His interests seemed to lie around the Indian Ocean.

If you have black people on your island, you're not east of Papua.
Oh, I know about Englehorn and for that matter Denham and the places they were familiar with, it was just my sense, as a classic movie fan, even as a child (and especially then) getting that "Pacific vibe" from the Kong pictures. There's something about Kong that feels further east of where the island is in fact located, but that's me. Also, old movies with tropical isles were nearly always set somewhere in the Pacific, southern part mostly, or nearby; occasionally in places like the China seas and the Java sea (or whatever it was called back then). That's what soon would become, cinematically speaking, Dorothy Lamour country; and after that, books and magazines, James Michener put his stamp on it; and then, of course, the musical, South Pacific, but I digress.
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Rick
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August 9th, 2018, 11:36 pm #19

Yeah, whatever they might say, and whatever might make real world sense, it sure always felt like the Pacific to me, too.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
~ Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
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Godziwolf
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August 10th, 2018, 7:54 pm #20

telegonus wrote:
Godziwolf wrote: However, I disagree with the Pacific feel. Englehorn mentions being familiar with the East Indies, but not being there. Denham came across the story in Singapore, and they are way of Sumatra.

Also: Cooper's previous films were set in Persia (Grass), Thailand (Chang), Papua New Guinea (Gow), and Egypt and Sudan (setting only, Four Feathers). His interests seemed to lie around the Indian Ocean.

If you have black people on your island, you're not east of Papua.
Oh, I know about Englehorn and for that matter Denham and the places they were familiar with, it was just my sense, as a classic movie fan, even as a child (and especially then) getting that "Pacific vibe" from the Kong pictures. There's something about Kong that feels further east of where the island is in fact located, but that's me. Also, old movies with tropical isles were nearly always set somewhere in the Pacific, southern part mostly, or nearby; occasionally in places like the China seas and the Java sea (or whatever it was called back then). That's what soon would become, cinematically speaking, Dorothy Lamour country; and after that, books and magazines, James Michener put his stamp on it; and then, of course, the musical, South Pacific, but I digress.
There's a lake of tar on the island (pre-WWII). That strongly suggests East Indies. This area basically is the Java Sea.

We're not far from Red Dust/Mogambo territory
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