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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There was a common misconception that the name "Godzilla" was Americanized by its US distributors from Gojira. The name Godzilla was actually the idea of Tôhô and its international sales division. "Godzilla" or "Go-dzi-la" is the proper pronunciation of "Gojira" in its native Japanese and Godzilla was described by Tôhô as "Godzilla" in their 1955 English language sales catalogue, a full year before finding an American distributor. The film even played briefly in Japanese-American owned theaters in Los Angeles and New York that year under the title of "Godzilla", before being picked up by Transworld and released in an Americanized version featuring Raymond Burr that following year as Godzilla, King of the Monsters!. Tôhô has since been the sole owners of the name Godzilla. See more »
The buildings attacked by Godzilla in the model shots, from the way they "slide" on their bases and explode upwards in one whole piece, do not appear to have any foundations (or, indeed, to be fixed to the ground in any way at all). See more »
If my device can serve a good purpose, i would announce it to everyone in the world! But in its current form, it's just a weapon of horrible destruction. Please understand, Ogata!
I understand. But if we don't use your device against Godzilla, what are we going to do?
Ogata, if the oxygen destroyer is used even once, politicians from around the world will see it. Of course, they'll want to use it as a weapon. Bombs versus bombs, missiles versus missiles, and now a new superweapon to throw upon ...
[...] See more »
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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