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With: Kru, Chantui, Nah, Ladah, Bimbo the Monkey
Written by: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Achmed Abdullah
Directed by: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 69
Date: 04/29/1927

Chang (1927)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Tigers and Monkeys and Elephants... Oh My!

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Well before co-directors Cooper and Schoedsack made King Kong, they beganas humble documentarians. For their first film together, Grass: ANation's Battle for Life (1925), they traveled to distant lands likePersia (Iran) to follow the Bakhtiari tribe on their semi-annual trekacross nearly insurmountable obstacles to find fresh grass for theirherds. Grass is an interesting relic that naively relies on itsWestern perspective, but it definitely captures a collection ofmemorable images.

For their next film, Chang (1927), the pair moved into the realm of "docudrama," filming real people doing real things, but telling a fictitious story. Set in Siam, the story follows a brave farmer who wishes to live deeper in the jungle than his fellow villagers. No sooner does he set up house than he faces a series of challenges from leopards to elephants. Even more so than on Grass, the filmmakers assemble an impressive array of wild animal footage, none more impressive than a herd of charging elephants, storming right over the camera.

Image Entertainment has newly released both Grass and Chang to DVD, and they're both fascinating companion pieces to King Kong, allowing viewers to trace the filmmakers' paths. Of course, after the success of Kong, the team's next projects consisted of various sequels (Son of Kong) and knockoffs (Mighty Joe Young), the likes of which continue up until this day.

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