American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast.American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast.American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast.
It's telling that it was the most advanced scientific breakthrough made by the most brilliant minds on the planet, the harnessing of the atom, that led to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in turn, in this movie, to the unleashing of a two million year old monster. It warns humanity that in stepping forward in its understanding of the universe, it was also taking a step backwards, and unleashing irrational, destructive violence upon the world. That's all pretty obvious I guess, but the scenes of fleeing people being incinerated by Godzilla, women and children huddling together in fear, and the destruction of Tokyo looking like an atomic bomb had gone off must have reverberated especially with the original audiences of the time. It certainly did for me. There is something deeply painful about this film.
In a fascinating development, it's a Japanese scientist who has to wrestle with the morality of having developed a weapon of mass destruction called the 'Oxygen Destroyer', knowing that its use to stop Godzilla in the short term may lead to its use to further horrific destruction in the long term. It seems to put the Japanese in the same position as the Americans in 1945, one where there are no easy answers. How does one put the lid back on the box of an arms race, where one technology or act of violence leads to another in a crazy, unending spiral? The solution offered may or may not be all that realistic, but I thought just raising the question in the way the film did - and so soon after the war - was incredibly thought-provoking and brave. The film thus works on emotional and philosophical levels that one normally wouldn't get in a monster film, or at least, with this level of meaning and intensity. Definitely recommended.
- Oct 19, 2019