- Congo (film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Marshall Produced by Kathleen Kennedy
Screenplay by John Patrick Shanley Based on Congo by
Starring Laura Linney
Joe Don Baker
Music by Jerry Goldsmith Cinematography Allen Daviau Editing by Anne V. Coates Studio Kennedy/Marshall Distributed by Paramount Pictures Release date(s) June 9, 1995 Running time 109 minutes Country United States Language English
American Sign Language
Budget $50 million Box office $152,022,101
Congo is a 1995 action adventure film, based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. It was directed by Frank Marshall and stars Laura Linney, Dylan Walsh, Tim Curry, Ernie Hudson, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Grant Heslov, and Joe Don Baker. The film was released on June 9, 1995 by Paramount Pictures. Although the film did well at the box office, it was panned by critics due to the use of costumes and puppetry for the gorillas in the film.
The film begins with TraviCom employee Charles Travis (Bruce Campbell), the ex-fiancé of electronics expert Dr. Karen Ross (Linney), testing a diamond-powered communications laser in a remote part of the Congo situated on a dormant volcano. Charles' friend Jeffrey is excited over discovering the ruins of an ancient city, but when he enters a cave to retrieve his bag, he is killed and mutilated offscreen. Whatever killed him throws his eyeball at Charles and attacks from off-screen. Several minutes after the attack, Karen, who is waiting in the company's Houston headquarters for Charles to communicate via satellite, activates the video feed on his camera. Karen and her team are shocked to see a destroyed camp and several dead bodies. Before they can see much more, a shadowy animal rushes to the camera and knocks it over, ending the transmission. TraviCom CEO R.B. Travis (Baker), Charles' father, reveals that the purpose of exploring the Congo is to find a rare blue diamond expected to only exist at volcanic sites to expand his communication technologies. He orders Karen, who's former CIA, to finish what Charles started, namely to find the diamonds. She makes him promise that he is sending her there for his son, and not simply for the diamonds.
Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Elliott (Walsh), a young primatologist at the University of California at Berkeley, and his assistant Richard (Heslov) have devised a way to teach human communication to primates using a gorilla named Amy (voiced by Shayna Fox). With a special backpack and glove, her sign language is translated to a digitized voice. Despite the success, however, Peter is concerned over the fact that Amy is having nightmares and psychological problems that have only been partly quelled by constantly painting the same picture of an eye surrounded by trees. Peter figures out that she is painting a jungle and decides to return her to Africa, but the university is reluctant to fund the expedition. Peter is then approached by a Romanian philanthropist, Herkermer Homolka (Curry), who offers to fund the expedition. Karen, hoping to find Charles, joins Peter and provides additional funding for his trip.
Upon arriving in Africa, the group is met by their expert guide, Captain Monroe Kelly (Hudson). However, they are soon captured by the local authorities and questioned by a military leader (Delroy Lindo) who grants them passage in exchange for a large bribe. As the group boards another plane, Monroe reveals that Homolka has led previous safaris in search of the "Lost City of Zinj", with disastrous results. The group covertly crosses the sealed Zaire border but must parachute into the jungle after their plane is shot down by Zairean soldiers. They make camp in the jungle and Karen sets up equipment to contact TraviCom via satellite. Just as she begins the video feed to Travis in Houston, Peter and Amy, who were rough-housing nearby, knock over the equipment abruptly. Travis, thinking this meant a second attack identical to the first, quickly sends in a third team. The next morning, members of a ghost tribe enter the camp, claiming to have seen a dead white man with the TraviCom logo on his clothes.
The ghost tribe members lead the team to the man, a member of the original TraviCom expedition, Bob, who is not actually dead but in a catatonic state. As they attempt to revive Bob, he catches a glimpse of Amy and begins to scream uncontrollably, before coughing up blood and dying of shock. Perplexed, the group heads deeper into the jungle by boat, surviving a brutal hippopotamus attack at night. Along the route, they watch as a large cargo plane streaks across the night sky on fire, shot down by the Zaire military and doomed to crash in the jungle. Monroe again presses Homolka about his obsession with the lost city, and Homolka reveals that as a young man, he found a book in Soviet Georgia that contained a detailed drawing of the City of Zinj, where King Solomon was believed to have had a vast diamond mine. The drawing featured a peculiar decoration that resembles an open eye, the same eye that Amy has been painting. Homolka comes to the conclusion that Amy has seen Zinj and can take the group there.
The group finally discover the lost city of Zinj, while the dormant volcano shows signs of increasing activity. Peter, Karen, Monroe, Homolka, and head porter Kahega (Akinnuoye-Agbaje) enter the ruins while Amy, Richard and the remaining porters wait outside. While the first group searches the city, they see that a certain hieroglyphic keeps repeating itself. Suddenly, a hysterical Richard runs into the city, screaming, blood on his face. He collapses dead and a gray gorilla jumps out of the shadows and throws the severed head of a porter at the group, the gorilla is quickly killed while another claws Monroe, which is chased off by Kahega. Amy, then appears, clearly frightened. That night, they set up a secure camp, but the gray gorillas attack the perimeter after dark and are driven off by automated machine guns set up by Karen. Homolka translates the repeated hieroglyph: "We are watching you." In the morning, Amy is gone.
Back inside the ruins of Zinj, the group finds Solomon's diamond mine. Homolka picks up handfuls of large diamonds but the group is quickly ambushed by the gray gorillas, who guard the mine and its precious minerals. Homolka is quickly killed by the gorillas and the others open fire with machine guns. In a small geode within the mine, Karen and Peter find Charles' dead body, a large blue diamond in his hand. Kahega and the other porters run out of ammunition and are killed, as gorillas pull Peter away from Karen and Monroe and attack him. However, Amy arrives and fiercely protects the injured Peter from the gray gorillas, giving Karen enough time to load one of the diamonds into her own powerful laser, which she uses as a weapon on the gorillas. The volcano then erupts violently, collapsing the mine into molten lava and giving the three survivors time to escape as the killer gorillas are consumed by the boiling lava.
Upon escaping the collapsing city and the erupting volcano, Karen contacts Travis and informs him that she found the diamond mine, but that Charles is dead. However, when she coldly realizes that Travis only values the diamonds, she programs the laser to target Travicom's multimillion-dollar satellite, destroying it in space. Having found the shot-down cargo plane, Karen has Monroe find and set up a hot air balloon, something their own expedition had left behind at the airport. Meanwhile, Peter must say goodbye to Amy. She gives him a flower and sets off into the wild with a group of mountain gorillas. At sunset, Peter, Karen, and Monroe set off in the hot air balloon. Karen has Peter throw away the only diamond she managed to save from the mine, and the balloon sails away from the jungle, as Amy looks on.
- Laura Linney as Dr. Karen Ross, an electronics expert for TraviCom, and a former CIA operative, who hopes to find her ex-fiancé lost in a previous expedition to the Congo.
- Dylan Walsh as Dr. Peter Elliott, a primatologist of Berkeley, California who wants to return his gorilla, Amy, to her birthplace in the Virunga region of the Congo.
- Ernie Hudson as Captain Monroe Kelly, the "Great White Hunter" and mercenary who leads the group.
- Lorene Noh, Misty Rosas, and the voice of Shayna Fox as Amy, a female mountain gorilla, born in the Virunga region, who is studied by Peter in the United States. She likes to draw scenes from her dreams, in which the Lost City of Zinj often appears.
- Tim Curry as Herkermer Homolka, a supposedly-rich man from Romania who offers to finance the expedition. He poses as a philanthropist, but it is soon revealed that he is not at all wealthy and his real aim is to find the mythical Lost City of Zinj, where he lost another expedition some years before.
- Grant Heslov as Richard, Peter's research assistant.
- Joe Don Baker as R.B. Travis, the CEO of TraviCom, Charles' father and Karen's boss. He wants to find the diamond mines to finance and expand his satellite technologies.
- Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Kahega: Monroe's second-in-command and leader of the African porters in the expedition.
- Bruce Campbell as Charles "Charlie" Travis, Karen's ex-fiance and R.B.'s son.
- Joe Pantoliano as Eddie Ventro, an American living in Central Africa who hires Monroe, and organizes the group's transportation and materials.
- Delroy Lindo as Captain Wanta, a corrupt African military officer who offers safe passage through his country (and a few humorous words) for a price.
- Frank Welker provided the vocal effects for gorillas.
Congo opened with a weekend total of $24,642,539, eventually going on to gross $152,022,101 worldwide ($81,022,101 domestic) theatrically versus a $50,000,000 budget.
Despite solid box-office returns, the critical reaction to the film was less successful. It has a 21% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A significant cause of disappointment among fans of the novel was that the "gorillas" were costumed humans and puppets, whereas the 1993 film Jurassic Park had familiarized audiences with CGI dinosaurs. CGI was originally planned for the gray gorillas, 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. The film was met with some positive reviews. Roger Ebert, of Chicago Sun-Times, called the movie a splendid example of a genre no longer much in fashion, the jungle adventure story. He gave it 3 out of 4 stars.
It was nominated for seven Razzie Awards in 1996 including Worst Picture, Worst Director (Frank Marshall), Worst Supporting Actor (Tim Curry), Worst Supporting Actress ("Amy the Talking Gorilla"), Worst New Star ("Amy the Talking Gorilla"), Worst Screenplay (John Patrick Shanley) and Worst Original Song (Jerry Goldsmith and Lebo M for "(Feel) the Spirit of Africa").
- ^ "MOVIE REVIEW : They Took Crichton Out of the 'Congo'". The Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1995-06-09/entertainment/ca-11117_1_michael-crichton. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
- ^ "REEL LIFE / FILM & VIDEO FILE : Crichton 'Congo' Crew Beats a Path to Simi Ranch : A menagerie helps create the setting of a jungle airstrip. Another thriller is shot at a Potrero Road house.". The Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1994-10-13/news/vl-49562_1_potrero-road. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
- ^ "Company Town : At the Box Office, Literary Prestige Is One for the Books". The Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1995-06-13/business/fi-12769_1_box-office. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
- Congo at the Internet Movie Database
- Congo at AllRovi
- Congo at Rotten Tomatoes
- Congo at Box Office Mojo
Films directed by Frank Marshall 1990s 2000sEight Below (2006) Works by Michael Crichton NovelsThe Andromeda Strain (1969) · The Terminal Man (1972) · The Great Train Robbery (1975) · Eaters of the Dead (1976) · Congo (1980) · Sphere (1987) · Jurassic Park (1990) · Rising Sun (1992) · Disclosure (1994) · The Lost World (1995) · Airframe (1996) · Timeline (1999) · Prey (2002) · State of Fear (2004) · Next (2006) · Pirate Latitudes (2009) · Micro (2011, with Richard Preston) Novels written
adaptationsThe Andromeda Strain (1971) · Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues (1972) · The Carey Treatment (1972) · The Terminal Man (1974) · The First Great Train Robbery (1979) · Rising Sun (1993) · Jurassic Park (1993) · Disclosure (1994) · Congo (1995) · The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) · Sphere (1998) · The 13th Warrior (1999) · Timeline (2003) · The Andromeda Strain (2008)
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