A 164-foot-tall (50-meter-tall) monster reptile with radioactive breath is revived, thanks to nuclear testing. It goes on a mad rampage, destroying Tokyo - can it be stopped? Should it be killed? Written by
Marty McKee <email@example.com>
During filming in September of 1954, rain contaminated by a Soviet nuclear test began falling in northern Japan, contaminating vegetables and well water. This may have inspired the scene where Professor Tanabe (Fuyuki Murakami) warned the Oto Island villagers not to drink water from the well. See more »
You can see the wires leading from the planes as they attack Gojira. See more »
I can't believe that Godzilla was the only surviving member of its species... But if we continue conducting nuclear tests, it's possible that another Godzilla might appear somewhere in the world again.
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The original, Japanese version of "Gojira" is the best giant monster film I've ever seen. Some fans get carried away and call it one of the best movies ever made; I wouldn't go quite that far, but it's damn good.
This film is quite different from the 20+ sequels that followed. Here, Godzilla is not so much a creature as he is a walking incarnation of the atomic bomb. His death ray, which became a rather amusing cartoon laser blast in later films, is here depicted as a sort of radioactive mist that sets its victims on fire. These "radioactive horror" images still resonate today - and imagine the impact they must've had on Japanese audiences fifty years ago.
From a production standpoint, the film holds up well. Godzilla's costume is much more convincing than the silly monkey suits that featured in the 60s and 70s Toho films, and due to the grayscale photography, the model cityscapes look convincing in most shots - or at least respectable. Ifkube's music score is stirring (you know it has to be good, as they kept recycling it in later movies), and director Honda makes great use of camera angles and imaginative special effects to give Godzilla a genuine aura of menace.
For once, the human characters don't let the side down. There's a compelling love triangle, and a dramatic sacrifice made at the end of the film that adds enormously to its emotional impact. The American version ("Godzilla: King of the Monsters") cut out much of the character development, and is thus clearly inferior; but never fear, Rialto is apparently releasing "Gojira," in all its original glory, sometime this year (2004).
In the later Godzilla films, the destruction he causes is almost incidental. Here, it's the whole point - he's a force of nature. Impressive.
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