Japan is thrown into a panic after several ships explode and are sunk. At first, the authorities think its either underwater mines or underwater volcanic activity. The authorities soon head to Odo Island, close to where several of the ships were sunk. One night, something comes onshore and destroys several houses and kills several people. A later expedition to the island led by paleontologist Professor Kyôhei Yamane, his daughter Emiko, and young navy frogman Hideto Ogata (who also happens to be Emiko's lover, even though she is betrothed to Dr. Daisuke Serizawa) soon discover something more devastating than imagined in the form of a 164-foot-tall (50-meter-tall) monster whom the natives call Gojira. Now, the monster begins a rampage that threatens to destroy not only Japan but the rest of the world as well. Can the monster be destroyed before it is too late, and what role will the mysterious Serizawa play in the battle?Written by
Brian Washington <Sargebri@att.net>
Stop motion animation in the style of King Kong (1933) was rejected because of the time it would take and the subsequent cost. Also, according to special effects director, Eiji Tsuburaya, there was simply no one in Japan who was skilled and experienced in doing that kind of stop motion animation. See more »
It's nine years after the dropping of atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the "authorities" cannot recognize radiation burns. 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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