Seeds of Disunion: Classics in Black Stereotypy Film Series: King Kong

King Kong 1

Widely considered to be one of the most iconic American films of all time, King Kong (1933) offers up a disturbing portrait of the dominant racial ideologies of the time. Released 35 years before the passing of the Civil Rights Act, the film draws uncomfortable parallels with the US slave trade, with some scholars arguing that the film is a racist allegory about African Americans in the US during this time. The original giant monster movie, King Kong (1933) was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry and was named Best Horror Film by critics, though its enduring popularity and archetypal images raise interesting questions about evolving race relations in the US.

On the 100th anniversary of D. W. Griffith’s epic The Birth of a Nation (1915), Black Cinema House presents a series of important films in the history of Black representation that, due to their notorious reputations, many contemporary viewers have never actually watched, certainly not in their entirety. Jacqueline Stewart (University of Chicago professor of Cinema & Media Studies, BCH curator) and Miriam Petty (Northwestern University, assistant professor of Radio/TV/Film) will introduce the film and lead discussion afterwards.

(Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Shoedsack, 1933, 104 min)