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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Filmmaking > King Kong – Peter Jackson’s Production Diaries (Limited Box Set)

King Kong – Peter Jackson’s Production Diaries (Limited Box Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Main Program: B



Showing amazing confidence in their new film, Universal Pictures and Peter Jackson are issuing (in advance by a few days of the theatrical film release) a limited edition box set on King Kong – Peter Jackson’s Production Diaries.  The box is elaborate for all the extras included, but the DVDs are basic, yet extensive and certainly ambitious.  Running over two hours each, DVD 1 covers the 2004 period of production, while DVD 2 finishes with the film all the way to its 2005 post production.


Jackson is often the host, yet all the stars and behind the scenes crew who make the film happen also happen to gall get a chance to discuss the various aspects of production.  Though it is not explicitly broken down as if it were a course in film production, the chronological order and convenient chapterization deliver just that, an updating of the kind of program we do not see enough.  Here, the idea of new digital technology and digital production innovations all the way top editing and how they have integrated with the latest version of film technology is always involving.  Sure, there is joking and that’s fine, but the thoroughness of the program is exceptional and is likely to become a teaching tool for years to come.


Unlike the usual making of extras you get on even the best DVD sets, this is totally devoted to the entire production process showing ins and outs you would never even see on a Criterion Collection DVD.  Industry people complain about showing too much, but in this case, the hard work and massive undertaking a film like this requires educates the viewer inundated with endless financial figures about costs and the like.  Here, you are a guest in the current film world and since the film is not all digital, having a production that throws in everything and the kitchen sink gives one an overview of any possible kind of film production today.


These diaries are rare, the most famous previous version being the fine book-only diary Roger Moore made for his James Bond debut film Live & Let Die (1973), still a one of a kind classic.  However, having this technology gives you new ways to see the process.  The later Moore Bond The Spy Who Loved Me even had a six-hour documentary about its production shot on film back in 1977, though only clips have been seen since.  Like those hits, which are still talked about to this day, this program is so good that though it might spoil the film for some, the “spoilers’ are not as massive as you would think, with only one scene from the film (a digitally animated monster battle) is included.


Fans might want to wait until they see the film, and only a clip from the 1933 version is shown, while the 1976 version and other Kong features are ignored for the most part.  The best part is that this diary is so strong, that it stands out on its own and as films change more and more, (including more and different digital applications surface), this will turn out to be a landmark record (intended or not) of filmmaking at a time when the industry was in a slump and torn about which direction it was or would go in.  It stands out on its own and is a must see, while fans will want to get this limited edition set before they likely run out.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image originated on digital video and shows such limits, but is just fine for this elongated documentary presentation.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no surrounds, even in a later film clip, but sounds good for the purpose and the combination is what you could expect from a taped diary in any case.  Extras are the items that come with the DVDs, including the mock briefcase paperboard case everything comes in, the certificate authenticating the set, four production design images reproduced on high quality paperboard and a nice 52-page booklet with all kinds of illustrations that follow the chronology of the DVDs.  As a matter of fact, the DVDs are in a folding set of Digipaks on each other that form a faux notepad holder.  On top of that is a metal clipper that holds the 52-page booklet.  This is the most elaborate DVD box Universal has issued since the Scarface set (reviewed elsewhere on this site) that had both film versions and other extras.  No matter how the film turns out, this is a great set.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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