The Commentary That Made Home-Video History

Today, one of the most fearsome beasts in all of cinema storms onto the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, and he’s bringing with him the very first audio commentary ever recorded. The screen debut of the gargantuan gorilla who needs no introduction, Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack’s 1933 action spectacle King Kong later went on to become one of Criterion’s earliest laserdisc releases, featuring a trailblazing track from film historian Ronald Haver. Now available to stream on the Channel, the commentary ushers viewers deep behind the scenes, detailing the staggering level of technical ingenuity that went into creating the scenery-stomping thrill ride. This clip finds Haver explaining the complex mesh of effects—including on-set machinery, optical compositing, and miniature projection—in one of the film’s iconic chases, and describing the offshoot “spider pit” scene that was cut to speed up the action. Watch above to find out why several state-of-the-art shots made use of a decidedly low-tech household item—the condom—and then head over to the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck to take in the rest of Haver’s pioneering play-by-play.

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