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Congo_(film)

Congo (film)

For other films with similar names, see Congo.
Congo is a 1995 movie, based on Michael Crichton's 1980 novel Congo. It was directed by Frank Marshall and stars Dylan Walsh, Laura Linney, Tim Curry, Ernie Hudson, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Grant Heslov and Joe Don Baker. The screenplay for the movie was written by John Patrick Shanley. The music was composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

Characters

  • Dr. Karen Ross (Laura Linney): Member of TraviCom who wishes to find her ex-fiancé lost in a previous expedition to the eastern Congo.
  • Dr. Peter Elliot (Dylan Walsh): Primatologist of Berkeley, California who wants to return his gorilla, Amy, to her birth place in the Virunga region of the Congo.
  • Captain Munro Kelly (Ernie Hudson): The "Great White Hunter" and mercenary... who happens to be black.
  • Amy (Lorene Noh & Misty Rosas): Amy is a female mountain gorilla, born in the Virunga region, who is studied by Dr. Elliot in the United States. She likes to draw scenes from her dreams, in which the Lost City of Zinj often appears.
  • Herkermer Homolka (Tim Curry): An eccentric rich man from Romania who offers to finance the expedition. He explains this action presenting himself as a philanthropist, but it is soon revealed that his real aim is to find the mythical Lost City of Zinj, where he lost another expedition some years ago.
  • Richard (Grant Heslov): Elliot's assistant and friend.
  • R. B. Travis (Joe Don Baker): TraviCom CEO and Ross' Boss. He wants to find the diamond mines to finance and expand his satellite technologies.
  • Kahega (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje): Munro's guide and leader of the African porters in the expedition.

Differences from the Book

There are significant differences between the book and movie:

  • In the book, the gray apes look similar to ordinary gorillas, but are smaller. In the movie, they are the size of normal gorillas and have a monstrous appearance.
  • The characters Homolka and Richard are not in the book.
  • The character Dr. Karen Ross and her aims were greatly changed in the film version. In the book, she is just a cold-blooded business woman who wants to find the diamond mines for industrial purposes, more or less like Travis or Homolka in the film version. In the movie Ross is searching for her ex-fiance, lost with the first expedition.
  • In the novel, the company that Dr. Ross works for is called Earth Resources Technology Services, Inc. or ERTS, while in the film, the company is called TraviCom.
  • In the book Amy does not have a sign language glove to enable her to "speak". Instead, Dr. Elliot interprets her sign language.
  • The travel to Africa was slightly different in the book: From the US to Morocco (where Munro was hired), then to Kenya, to Rwanda and finally to Zaire (DR Congo). Tanzania and the Central African Republic weren't visited, as they are in the movie.
  • In the book, the catatonic survivor of the first expedition doesn't wake up and die after seeing Amy. He has a reaction to Elliot's gorilla smell but never recovers consciousness. Ross says that she will tell his position to the ERTS staff before leaving him in the African village, in order to recover and bring him later to a hospital.
  • In the book, Ross and Elliot are the only non-African members (Munro, although white, was born in Kenya) of the expedition that enter the lost city of Zinj, while in the movie also Homolka and Elliot's assistant Richard do that.
  • The gorillas in the book kill using stone paddles, which is not present in the movie.
  • The book contained a competing faction known as the Consortium. This group included investors from Japan, Germany and other foreign nations also looking for Solomon's Mines. This element was not present in the movie.
  • Most of the back-story of how the Grays were created was not mentioned in the movie.
  • In the book, the Grays were human ape hybrids bred to attack people who they perceive as threatening the mine. In the movie, this is not mentioned.
  • The book has an epilogue describing Amy's behavior after returning to the wild, teaching her own young sign language, which is not mentioned in the movie.
  • Munro is white in the book. The transliterated joke in the movie is that Munro is their "great white hunter" that happens to be black.
  • The aforementioned character's full name in the book was "Charles Munro", whereas in the movie it is "Munro Kelly."
  • The gorilla attack on the camp scene was much longer in the book, lasting all night, whereas the one in the movie only lasted for a few minutes. The camp perimeter was protected by an electrified fence in the book. The camp in the movie, however, was protected by a laser beam fence, motion senors, and automatic machine guns.
  • The character Kahega lives in the book, while in the movie he is killed by the grey gorillas.
  • In the novel, Dr. Ross is a mathematical genius and is 24 years of age; her mathematical aptitude is not mentioned in the film and she appears a few years older.
  • In the book, the goal of the original expedition was to find Solomon's Mines for their blue diamonds. It is explained in the book that these diamonds were worthless for their gem value, but were invaluable in electronics technologies. All of the diamonds from Solomon's Mines were blue. The goal was not to find one large blue diamond for the communications laser, unlike the movie.
  • Dr. Ross does not destroy the communications satellite in the book. In fact, in the novel ERST had multiple, concurrent expeditions in multiple locations around the globe. Destroying the communications satellite would have endangered them all.
  • The endings differed greatly between the movie and the book. The crashed plane discovered by the group in the book belonged to the Consortium, not another TraviCom expedition as in the movie. Additionally the group suffered an attack by a local native cannibal tribe before they could escape, using the crashed plane as shelter.
  • In the movie, the only diamond recovered was thrown away; in the book, Munro completes a sale of a small collection of blue diamonds.

Box Office & Critical Reaction

Congo opened with a weekend total of $24,642,539, eventually going onto gross $152,022,101 worldwide ($81,022,101 domestic) theatrically versus a $50,000,000 budget. However the critical reaction was less successful. Roger Ebert said that Congo is a splendid example of a genre no longer much in fashion, the jungle adventure story. He gave it 3 out of 4 stars. Most critics called it a theme park that can't decide whether it's a spoof or a thriller.

A significant cause of disappointment among fans was that the "gorillas" were costumes and puppets, whereas the 1993 film Jurassic Park had familiarized audiences with CG dinosaurs. In fact, CGI was originally planned for the grays, but the technology had not yet been developed to the point where realistic hair could be created. While smooth skinned dinosaurs were possible, hairy apes would have looked inappropriately cartoonish. Therefore, animatronics, masks and puppetry had to be utilized.

However, the film has garnered a cult following in the years since its release, who appreciate the adaptation despite its divergence from the source material. One of reasons the film was slated in 1995 was because it came out in the shadow of "Jurassic Park," a much more high-profile Michael Crichton adaptation; had it been released before or significantly after, it may have faced less severe criticism.

Awards

Won (2)

BMI Film & TV Awards:

Sci-Fi Universe Magazine, USA:

  • Best Supporting Actor in a Genre Motion Picture (Ernie Hudson)

Nominated (11)

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA

Kids' Choice Awards

  • Favorite Animal Star - "Amy, the gorilla"

Razzie Awards

  • Worst Director (Frank Marshall)
  • Worst New Star "Amy the Talking Gorilla"
  • Worst Original Song (Jerry Goldsmith) (Lebo M) For the song "(Feel The) Spirit of Africa"
  • Worst Picture (Kathleen Kennedy) (Sam Mercer)
  • Worst Screenplay (John Patrick Shanley)
  • Worst Supporting Actor (Tim Curry)
  • Worst Supporting Actress "Amy the Talking Gorilla"

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