I first came to the idea of “Better Endings” after watching the 2005 Peter Jackson movie version of King Kong. Knowing in advance, of course, that the tragic fate of the great ape that was imminent, I left the theater while Kong was still alive, holding his beloved Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) atop the needle of the Empire State building. The military loomed large on the scene already and I knew all too well what was coming. I just didn’t have it in me this time around to stay and watch–or to agree to–the fateful fall of Kong, or of the magnificent, gigantic forces of Nature being crushed by the cold machinations of an insensitive, urbane modern world. So instead, I went home, put pen to paper, and re-scripted the ending of the King Kong story more to my own liking. In my own “better ending” version of the tale, of course, Kong lives!
Kong’s fateful Fall from the Empire State Building still occurs in my re-visioning, but with the heroine still in one hand, Kong breaks his fall twice on the way down out of sheer willpower, grasping desperately at the side of the building and slowing the descent out of his superhuman love for Ann Darrow and an unwillingness to let her die. So, at the base of the building where Kong has landed with his beloved, he is injured by the impact but he has survived. Out of still a superhuman primate drive to protect his beloved Ann from the dark forces of urban inhumanity, Kong drags himself away from the building as the military stalls from closing in, expecting Kong could not have survived such a fall so rallying around the opposite side of the building to organize how they will haul away his carcass. Kong limps with the now unconscious Ann still in his hand, instinctively navigating through mostly empty alleyways back to the frozen lake in Central Park where she and he had communed in the film version just before their climb up the Empire State building.
Ann wakes as they reach Central Park and quickly surveys the situation. She leads Kong deep into a little known, trail-less, woodsy region she knows of in the Park. They lay low there while Ann uses a powerful, backstage theater-prop style walkie-talkie that for protective reasons Jack Driscoll had slipped into her pocket (remember, it’s 1933). Ann calls Jack, the screenwriter (still in my version played by Adrien Brody), who is also smitten with her. Given this new chance to finally win Ann’s heart, Jack arranges to rent a rather large truck with a canvas cover. He waits for the dirigible searchlights to depart from over the Park then he drives to where Ann directs him to in the woods. Kong is nearly spent by his exertions. He has enough life left in him, though, to drag himself, following Ann, into the cover of the truck bed.
Jack drives while Ann stays in the back of the truck with Kong. They transport Kong off to–you might have guessed it!–a recently constructed Primate Center in New Jersey that hasn’t opened yet to the public. The sympathetic director of the Center, Jane (of course) takes immediately to Kong and gives him sanctuary. Vets arrive to minister to his wounds under signed oaths of secrecy.
To make an even longer story short: The Primate Center receives a large grant and builds an entire Great Apes wing all for Kong, bringing in native flora and some of the least harmful native fauna from Kong’s island to the primate center for Kong’s comfort. Ann’s acting career soars; she marries Jack and eventually they have two kids that grow up to be ecologically sensitive and primate-friendly; their son Sam becomes a climatologist and their daughter Diane eventually becomes an apprentice to Jane. Ann visits Kong every weekend at the Primate Center.
Jane teaches Kong sign language, for which he has an amazing aptitude due to his special evolutionary adaptation as a Giant Pongid (plus his determination to be able to communicate with Ann)! Kong is able to communicate–with an IQ of around 90–with Ann and with Jane and an enthusiastic team of linguists. Kong contributes to greater human awareness about his own insights and feelings and he provides humans with a greater understanding of the natural world he grew up in and about the loving, spiritual capacity of our primate cousins.
So, what film would you like to write a Better Ending for? Feel free to Comment below and to Submit your own Better Endings version of any movie!
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