|How come Godzilla has a Criterion release? Oh well.|
When Ishiro Honda directed it, Japan had just barely survived from the trauma of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which devastated the country with its horrifying loss of human life and its unprecedented side-effects. What's even more worse was that other countries were still testing their nuclear weapons on island near Japan. As a result, Godzilla became an allegory of Japan's suffering. The film constantly refers to nuclear disaster such as having "atomic tuna" or having ill health effects following the radiation.
The film follows Japan after a series of disasters rock the stability of the nation. To explain what the cause of all this is, the government sends a group of investigators to the site where a monster was supposed to be seen. They are able to locate the monster, called Gojira/Godzilla, and they discover that he's an ancient dinosaur that's been contaminated by nuclear radiation. From here on, it becomes an allegorical drama about the consequences of nuclear testing as well as human emotions following a disaster. As Godzilla terrorizes Tokyo, some of the experts experience strong emotions about whether or not they should use a breaking new discovery of destroying oxygen to kill the monster.
|Is Godzilla flushing his teeth with the model train set?|
When the film got released in America, the producers decided to cut the atomic references from the original and have Raymond Burr play an American reporter describe the action rather than showing it. In other words, they reduce the complex philosophy into something so stupid that I don't want to talk about it! Let's move onto what I think about the film.
To me, this film feels more like a complex disaster drama than a campy horror B-movie. Yes, there is absurd acting, and yes, there are frightening scenes. However, the film focuses more of its attention to the victims rather than on the monster. People are seen crushed, and dying in the hospitals because of Godzilla's destruction. In a heartbreaking scene, several schoolgirls are shown singing a hymn of peace to soothe the fears of the nation. Scientists and politicians fight over what is the right thing to do in this situation. The music and cinematography present a very gritty situation, and the ending is more of a pessimistic warning suggesting that there will be more disasters or Godzillas up ahead. No, it wasn't referring to the massive amount of sequels or the two awful American revisions that appeared after this.
Happy Halloween, everyone! I know I haven't written a post since August, but I was getting overwhelmed by schoolwork, the moving into a new condo, and the sheer terror of the hurricane. Sorry. To make up for it, I've decided to do a post of a classic monster movie for Halloween! :) Thank you for being patient with me. And please do not send me hate mail for hating the Americanized version. I do like parts of it, like Raymond Burr's acting. I just think Gojira (1954) is superior to Godzilla, King Of The Monsters! (1956).