As we creep ever closer to the release of Kong: Skull Island, new details continue to emerge about the latest King Kong film. Most recently, we’ve heard about the comparisons between Kong and Godzilla and seen the film get a little Apocalypse Now. Today, Nerdistwent even further and shared what they learned on their most-recent set visit. Namely, parts of the film have been influenced by anime legend Hayao Miyazaki and aims to bring Kong back to his mythic roots.
Known for employing Japanese folklore and legend in his fantasy tales, the likes of which include Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki’s influence can be found here in the form of the film’s many creatures. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts took a page from Miyazaki’s playbook and decided to focus on the unique spirit of all living creatures.
“If Kong is the god of this island, we wanted each of the creatures to feel like individual gods of their own domain. Miyazaki[‘s] Princess Mononoke was actually a big reference in the way that the spirit creatures sort of have their own domains and fit within that. So a big thing [was] trying to design creatures that felt realistic and could exist in an ecosystem that feels sort of wild and out there, and then also design things that simultaneously felt beautiful and horrifying at the same time. Where if you look at this giant spider or this water buffalo, you stare at it and part of you says, ‘That’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!’ and [another part says], ’Oh my God that’s gonna kill me right now and I need to run for my life!’”
More than that, his aim was to bring to life creatures that didn’t feel derivative of other popular franchises or old-hat.
“It’s trying to find that weird balance and really just trying to think outside the box a little bit. Because we want to show audiences new things, and so not have the creatures feel derivative of Jurassic World, or of what they do in the Star Trek movies. They’re too Alien-like, or too H.P. Lovecraft… My biggest qualm with a lot of movies that I watch is I feel like I’ve seen it before. So we just really wanted to go out of our way to, especially with the other creatures, design things that felt sort of unique to our movie and can exist on the island.”
Perhaps not the direction any of us suspected, or the influence we would’ve guessed for the island’s creatures, this will be something to keep an eye on as the film plays out. There may be more than just Kong driving the action in a compelling way.
Speaking of the big man himself, star Tom Hiddleston had some things to say about the movie’s attempt to capture some of the same elements that inspired the original movie back in 1933.
“The spine of the film, as many of these huge films are, is really about myth and the power of myth,” Hiddleston says. “That’s what the Jurassic films are about. Whether it’s going back to The Odyssey or The Life of Pi, where basically human beings need to be reminded of how small they are. In the face and scale of the world and the universe. King Kong is one of the biggest movie stars of a hundred years of cinema and he’s always served to remind people in the story and audiences that there are things about our world that are bigger than us that we don’t understand. Conrad comes to embody that humility. Which really appealed to me.”
This theme of myth and scale certainly captured Hiddleston’s interest, and he felt it even hearkened back to some truly old-school myths.
“I’ve always been drawn to myth. It’s funny, I don’t mean to make it sound like its more intellectual than it is, but I read classics in university, and the reason I did that was because I found the scale of those Greek and Roman gods and monsters appealing. They appealed to my imagination. Some people prefer stories about human beings in a very human space. I’ve always been very moved and inspired by myth. I love The Odyssey, and I think that’s why I was drawn to play Loki for the first time. It’s about very human feelings on a massive scale. The Thor film is about the breakdown of a household in a city where the gods live. It’s about the size of these stories, and so I’ve never shied away from that in a way.”
As a reimaging of Kong’s origins (and not a straight-up origin story itself), Kong: Skull Island seems to have been crafted thanks to a wide variety of influences. It will be interesting to see if all of these influences ultimately serve the movie well or give it an identity crisis. Good thing is, we don’t have to wait too much longer until we find out.
Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ “Kong: Skull Island” reimagines the origin of the mythic Kong in a compelling, original adventure from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts. In the film, a diverse team of explorers is brought together to venture deep into an uncharted island in the Pacific—as beautiful as it is treacherous—unaware that they’re crossing into the domain of the mythic Kong.
Kong: Skull Island hits theaters March 10, 2017.