Sunday, April 08, 2012

King Kong and the true story of Skull Island

The 1933 film King Kong (remade in 1976 and 2005) tells the story of a giant pre-historic creature which rules over a lost island (Skull Island) where it defeats all comers. Ultimately the creature is captured by a group of adventurers and brought back to New York, where it runs amok and is ultimately destroyed by man’s superior technology.

The film had its official world premiere on March 23, 1933 at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. In 1991, the film was deemed "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Was there ever such an island? Was there ever such a monster? In fact, the movie was inspired by a real life monster hunt on an Indonesian island conducted by W. Douglas Burden in 1926.

For years strange tales of a monster living on a remote Indonesian island circulated throughout the East Indies. Official interest was sparked in the early 1910s by stories from Dutch sailors. The creature was allegedly a "dragon" which inhabited a small island in the Lesser Sunda Islands. The fire breathing creature was reported to be seven meters long.

Lieutenant Steyn van Hensbroek, an official of the Dutch Colonial Administration accompanied by a detachment of soldiers landed on the island. After a few days, Hensbroek managed to kill a strange animal. But there were more of the beasts, which were photographed by Peter A. Ouwens, the Director of the Zoological Museum of Java who accompanied the expedition. The expedition provided the first reliable evidence of the existence of what we now call the Komodo dragon.

Mind bending stories from the Old Dominion. A collection of Virginia’s most notable Urban Legends, many include the true stories behind them.