Sunday, December 04, 2005

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - How to keep a gorilla, and other stories

New Zealand's Stuff with an interesting article on the current deluge of gorilla related material, mainly because of the release of Peter Jackson's King Kong remake.
As ape-obsessed publishers disgorge an avalanche of Kong-related dross, Iain Sharp tells the true history of gorilla lit.
[...]
King Kong? Not quite. In the original 1933 movie, King Kong was five to eight times taller (the models varied in scale from scene to scene). But Merian C Cooper, the driving force behind the film as chief scriptwriter, co-producer and co-director, had loved Du Chaillu's book since boyhood.

Cooper was probably also familiar with The Gorilla Hunters, a novel by Scottish writer RM Ballantyne, who specialised in ripping yarns for boys. Ballantyne's 1858 book The Coral Island - a tale of three young castaways in the South Seas - was a huge bestseller. Written in rapid, enthusiastic response to Du Chaillu's pioneering work and completed by the end of 1861, The Gorilla Hunters is a sequel in which the youthful trio (Ralph Rover, Jack Martin and Peterkin Gay) reunite, sail to Africa and lay waste to great apes.