Gojira (1954) Poster

(1954)

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9/10
Crushes its sequels like Godzilla crushes Tokyo!
dr_foreman8 March 2004
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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Why in God's Green Earth Isn't This Version Shown More?
Sargebri28 October 2003
Finally, I had the pleasure of finally seeing the original Japanese version of this classic and I have to say that it is much better than the "Raymond Burr" version. This film pretty much makes one think about what we are doing to mother Earth with all the pollution and war going on. Perhaps the thing that made this film great was that not only did it have great effects, but it also had a great story that made a great social commentary on what could have happened if the arms race continued to go unchecked. Besides the story about Gojira, you also had a pretty decent love story. Akihiko Hirata, does a good job of playing Serizawa, who is really the tragic figure in this film who must decide whether or not to use his weapon, which potentially was more dangerous than the monster itself. This film is definitely one of the all time classics and fortunately the original version will be released on DVD in September 2006.
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10/10
The first and original Godzilla.
OllieSuave-00710 July 2004
This one started it all: the first and original Godzilla (Gojira) movie, and also serves as the beginning to a long line of sci-fi and monster (kaiju in Japan) movies from Toho Studios. We have a story where Japan is thrown into a panic after several ships explode and sink. An expedition of law enforcement officials and lead scientist Dr. Yamane (Takeshi Shimura) head to nearby Odo Island to investigate. There, a legendary mythical creature called Gojira, alleged to be responsible for the ship disasters, make his first appearance and begins a rampage on hapless Tokyo, threatening all of mankind.

This dramatic film with its thrills and horror has all the monster movie elements: a fire-breathing creature, toppling buildings, wall of flames, fleeing and screaming citizens, storms and seas, tanks and the army and frantic scientists and government officials - trying to figure out how to defeat the horror they see before them.

The love triangle between the character leads blends in very well with the monster plot. Godzilla, making his first attack on Tokyo, created haunting scenes of death and destruction and poignant moments of dismalness in the aftermath of his wake. Director Ishiro Honda did his finest and composer Akira Ifukube scored one of his best film music masterpieces. A compelling story by Shigeru Kayama, marvelous screenplay by Takeo Murata and superb special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Actors Takeshi Shimura, Akira Takarada, Momoko Kochi and Akihiko Hirata gave outstanding performances. And, Haruo Nakajima, Katsumi Tezuka and Ryosaku Takasugi did a terrific and realistic job on portraying Godzilla.

It is clever that the grave consequences of atomic bomb testings are depicted in this film, which sends a vital message to the real world. This is a creative way to explain Godzilla's origins.

Every element in this movie are throughly connected, leaving no room for loose ends and plot holes. While the plot's pace is steady, all the on-scream drama and action will grab the audience's attention.

Above all, this film is not just a "monster-on-the-loose" movie. It's a true classic, one that stands out above many sci-fi movies in cinema history. A great movie to begin a long and successful (in most cases) line of Godzilla and other monster/sci-fi films from Toho Studios.

Grade A
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10/10
The first and best of the films.
Ryuusei3 November 2004
So this is where it all started!

Of course, as Godzilla is my all-time favorite character, I admit to being raised on the heavily edited US version starring Raymond Burr. But when viewing this film in its original form, it not only looks more like a Golden Age Toho fantasy as we all know it, but it's a very powerful masterpiece, as it stands in the history of world cinema. Here in 2004, 50 years ago today after its release, American audiences finally get to see the film in its entirety, thanks to its long-awaited subtitled theatrical release by Rialto Pictures.

Technically, Japanese monster movies began with the now-lost 1934 period fantasy, KING KONG HAS ARRIVED IN EDO (EDO NI ARAWARETA KINGU KONGU), which was obviously produced upon the success of the 1933 American classic, KING KONG. But it was GODZILLA (or GOJIRA as the Japanese call him) that truly made it over. Clearly inspired by the success of the 1953 hit, THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (released to Japan by Daiei early the same year), with a bit of KONG thrown in, Toho set out to make their own monster movie, not knowing that they would create a phenomenon that would last to this day!

What more can I say? This movie pretty much set the standard for Japanese monster movies as we all know! Watching the Japanese version is an amazing experience, and a hauntingly epic one!

The special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, as low-tech as they were, had minor flaws (notably visible wires and missiles shooting against a background), but even for a first try in the monster genre, they still looked spectacular, as is the photography! Even though the effects work improved in future films, this is still the landmark of things to come.

The music by Akira Ifukube is memorable. From his stirring main title music, to Godzilla's destructive, ponderous theme music, to the poignant ending. Again, Ifukube's work for this film sets the standard for his work in the fantasy film genre.

The main cast is top-notch, as you'd expect. Akira Takarada (20 at the time) stars as salvage officer Hideto Ogata, the main character. Veteran actor Takashi Shimura plays Dr. Kyouhei Yamane, the eccentric paleontologist, who serves as the Godzilla-expert. Momoko Kouchi plays Yamane's daughter Emiko, who's in love with Ogata. But the best character by far (and my all-time favorite human character in a Godzilla film) is the tormented, eyepatch-clad scientist Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, played by Akihiko Hirata. When watching the Japanese version, other supporting characters share the spotlight, especially the newspaper reporter Hagiwara (Sachio Sakai), radiologist Tanabe (Fuyuki Murakami), the Ooto Island fisherman Masaji (Ren Yamamoto) and his younger brother Shinkichi (Toyoaki Suzuki). They just come off as mere background characters in the US version, but if you watch the Japanese original, you'll be totally surprised. Their performances were really dazzling, just like you'd expect from actors in a Toho fantasy film. Some of these actors would appear in future Godzilla films, as well as other SPFX fantasies from Toho.

Compared to other incarnations, this film (as well as GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN) had the creepiest Godzilla ever, and that was just the way he was supposed to be! Almost like a black silhouette with bright, white staring eyes. Godzilla was not just a mere animal, he was basically a modern god! A raging, destructive demon with the power of the hydrogen bomb that affected him. Although Godzilla is inspired by the Rhedosaurus from BEAST, he was a completely different entity. He was virtually indestructible, and had an awesome power - a white-hot atomic breath! Godzilla became the archetype for many Japanese giant monsters to follow.

But exactly what is Godzilla? As explained in this film (it's explained better in the Japanese version), he's a huge amphibious bipedal dinosaur that lives in caverns under the sea, feeding off of smaller sea animals. He was feared as a "god" on Ooto Island, and many young virgin women were sacrificed to him to appease his hunger. Hydrogen bomb tests affected his habitat, giving him unbelievable radioactive power & strength (and a towering size of 50 meters, 164 feet). And a sleeping giant was awakened . . .

Makes you think more about those nuclear tests, doesn't it?

Lastly, while the Japanese original played out more smoothly, the American version starring Raymond Burr (of PERRY MASON fame) as the visiting American reporter Steve Martin (not to be confused with the famous comedian!) is still very effective. The epic scale of the original still manages to shine through what the US producers could allow, and Burr (who was hired for a whole day for filming the added scenes) still did a serviceable job. American fans of the original version can at least be thankful for this US version, without which America could not accept Godzilla.

As for the movie's story, I'd rather not go into it in detail. If you haven't seen it, please do so! Be it the original Japanese version (which I recommend the most, especially subtitled), or the edited US version!

Here's to 50 years of a classic movie, and a classic character I will love forever!
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10/10
Dark, terrifying, excellent
AwesomeWolf30 December 2004
Essentially a Japanese remake of Hollywood's 1953 classic 'The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms', 'Gojira' took the same formula and became so much more than simple giant-monster entertainment.

Both films told stories about a pre-historic creature released/mutated by atomic testing. 'The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms' followed the appearance of a dinosaur released by an atomic blast. This dinosaur proceeded to destroy some stuff, turned up in New York, and destroyed New York too. Fun, but that was it, and not much more (I'm not saying its a bad film).

On the other hand, 'Gojira' used the same idea, and had a great impact in Japan. Gojira represented a real threat, a danger that Japanese of the time knew all too well. The message behind 'Gojira' was warning of the dangers of nuclear testing and nuclear weapons. Conversely, the message of 'The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms' is one for aspiring comic-book writers: exposure to radiation is a cheap but easy way to explain your character's freaky superpowers.

'Gojira' starts off with several boats going missing. One old man claims that Godzilla has returned, and in surprisingly un-Godzilla movie like fashion, no one believes him. I can understand this, Japan wasn't accustomed to giant-monster attacks yet. Anyway, Japan asks an imminent paleontologist, Dr. Yamane, to investigate the disappearances around Ohto Island. He discovers a two-million year old shellfish and lots of radiation. Oh, and a dinosaur the locals have dubbed Gojira. Back in Japan, Dr. Yamane is convinced that Gojira has been released by atomic testing, and that it should be isolated and studied. Obviously, no one else shares his view, and they all look for a way to destroy Gojira.

The key to Gojira's destruction lies in the hands of Dr. Serizawa. You can tell he is mad scientist because of his eye-patch. He is arranged to be married to Emiko Yamane, but she is in love with Hideto Ogata, a naval officer. Meanwhile, Gojira is turning Tokyo into a fiery crater.

Story-wise, its pretty similar to any irradiated monster movie of the 1950s. However, what all the other movies lack is the gripping images of destruction. Gojira is depicted as an evil force of nature - instead of wanting to see cities get crushed, we see Tokyo in Gojira's wake: it resembles a nuclear wasteland, and then we are treated to hospital scenes where medical staff try their best to deal with the scores of Gojira's victims. I can only imagine how terrifying scenes like those would have been so soon after World War Two. These are scenes we don't to see, in contrast to the sheer joy of watching two giant monsters have at each other in a big metropolis with no apparent consequences (see: nearly every other Godzilla movie ever made, for starters) Interestingly enough, Godzilla was only 50 metres tall in this, and he left radioactive fallout wherever he went. Somewhere along the along the line in the following movies, he got significantly taller, and lost the radioactive fallout. I guess it was a good career move seeing as he wanted to become a super-hero later on.

Great film, worthy of a 10/10
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10/10
More than just another monster movie
JermaineWarfare6 January 2005
It's been fifty years since Ishiro Honda and the gang at Toho made the first Godzilla movie, and looking back on it, it's plain to see why this film has become more than just a cult sensation. It's mix of raw human emotion, fantastical story, and menacing precautionary messages help to deliver one of the silver screens greatest films. Akira Ifkube's foreboding score adds just the right amount of dark edge to Honda's masterpiece,as does Akihiko Hirata's performance as jaded scientist, Dr. Daisuke Serizawa. The suitmation and set designs used in this classic are superb as well, giving a certain level of realism missing from many later monster films. And, of course, veteran actor Takashi Shimura exceeds all expectations as Dr. Yamane.

Looking back on this film, taken in it's entirety and without the added American scenes, Godzilla (Gojira) truly is a film that will last the ages.
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10/10
The First and Definitely Best of the Series
Vigilante-40717 January 1999
Gojira (not Godzilla, King of the Monsters, with Raymond Burr), stands as one of the best monster movies...and one of Japan's finest and most allegory pieces of cinema. The original version of the movie has a lot of anti-nuclear sentiment that the US editors dropped from the Raymond Burr version. A woman on a subway noting that is seemed like she survived Nagaski only to die from Godzilla is an offhand but telling comment on Japan's unique view of the use of nuclear weapons.

The story itself is makes a bit more sense than the patchwork used with Raymond Burr (though that version is also quite good for the genre that it helps perpetuate). The effects are (I think) still great...the grainy, documentary feel of the movie makes it seem a lot more real.
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9/10
A Gigantic Classic!
Coventry28 December 2005
Along with the 1933-version of "King Kong", this original Japanese release of "Gojira" is THE most essential giant monster movie ever and one the very few horror movies that every film lover in general has to see at least once. Why? Because, it's so much more than just silly drive-in cinema with a cheap looking monster! This is dark and apocalyptic Sci-Fi with a nearly allegorical rant about nuclear warfare and the honest fear for new types of weaponry. But I really don't feel like going into the deeper meaning behind "Gojira", as it primarily is an adrenalin rushing and overpowering action classic that doesn't need intellectual defense at all. One of the many reasons why I love this film so much (and same goes for "King Kong") is that we don't have to wait a dreadfully long time and/or endure a large amount of tedious speeches before we see the monster we want to see! Godzilla makes his highly memorable first appearance after approximately 20 minutes (by stretching his neck over a cliff!) and, from then on, this is deliciously hectic and paranoid monster-madness! The little bugger is presumably the result of too much H-bomb radiation and lives in the depths of the ocean, near the island of Odo. But now he's heading for Tokyo with his unnameable strength, fiery breath and – oh yeah – insatiable appetite for destruction! Particularly this extended sequence in which Godzilla blasts his way through the Japanese capital, crushing buildings and setting monuments on fire, is very impressive and legendary. The actor-in-monster-costume works a lot better than any form of computer engineered effects and the carefully imitated Tokyo sets are truly enchanting. The absolute best aspect about this production is its powerful score, which makes Godzilla even more threatening. Great stuff!

This milestone simultaneously meant the go-ahead for an innumerable amount of quickly shot sequels ("Son of Gozilla", "Godzilla vs. Mothra"), spin-offs ("Godzilla VS. King Kong"), remakes ("Godzilla 1984", the hi-tech American version) and of course an overload of pathetic imitations ("Reptilicus", "Monster from a Prehistoric Planet"). I still have to see all the direct sequels but don't really know what to expect from them. I guess that even if they're only half as good as this original, I'll be very satisfied.
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9/10
Remembrances of New Year's Eve, 1960
Hitchcoc20 March 2006
When one thinks of all the schlock that has come out of Japan when it comes to monster movies, many which use the Godzilla figure, one forgets that this was a pretty darn good movie. I remember as a child, watching it on late night television, in 1960. It was New Year's Eve and the adults were out doing whatever it is they did. The presence of Raymond Burr gave me a sense of comfort (Perry Mason was a staple at our house). I realize he was added for American audiences. It didn't matter to me. Unlike so many of its successors, this was nicely paced, didn't bank on Godzilla being a matinée idol (some of the films are so stupid where the thing becomes a friend to Tokyo, a form of defense). This film has the terror of "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms." The sets were much better. The battle scenes truer than the cheaper things that came later. The monster was a force. I have always enjoyed that scene where one goes over a hill or a rise just before a beach, and on the other side is the monster. The scenes of him wading into the harbor. This is a striking presentation for the early days of monster movies. Of course, it's all based on radiation and the nuclear threat. This stuff enlarges things and makes them rampage. I hope to purchase the Japanese remastered version from 2004. I'd like to see it the way it was intended to be seen.
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10/10
Finally!
stmichaeldet4 February 2006
America had to wait fifty years to see the original version of Gojira in all its terrifying glory. This is not a user-friendly, action romp giant-monster film. This is the story of an unstoppable, destructive force unleashed on a city, its aftermath, and the impossibly hard choices people must make in response.

Of course, nearly every U.S. giant-monster fan has seen the recut-for-Americans version of this classic, with Raymond Burr sharing scenes with the backs of various anonymous heads standing in for members of the Japanese cast. And while we all feel affection for that version, the truth is, compared to the original, "our" version loses much of its impact, and stands revealed as an act of vandalism which sadly underestimates the tolerance of the American audience.

Truly a cut above every other kaiju ever made, this is the one to see. Trust me, you won't miss Raymond Burr a bit.
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6/10
Godzilla
jboothmillard1 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I've seen the naff but watchable 1998 Roland Emmerich version, and the fairly good 2014 Gareth Edwards version, but I'd never seen the original Japanese film that started it all, I found it through the BFI, and I was looking forward to it. Basically in Japan, a number of freighters and ships are destroyed in mysterious circumstances, with few survivors, and fishing catches are reduced to zero, these incidents are blamed on an ancient sea creature known as "Godzilla". Reporters arrive on Odo Island to further investigate, that night a large storm strikes, and an unseen force destroys many homes, and kills nine people and twenty villagers' livestock. Odo residents travel to Tokyo demanding disaster relief, villagers and reporters have evidence that something large is crushing the village, palaeontologist Kyohei Yamane (Ikiru's Takashi Shimura) is sent by the government to lead the investigation to the island. Giant radioactive footprints and a trilobite (extinct creature fossils) are discovered, and soon enough the creature Godzilla appears, it is a gigantic dinosaur that crashes around and roars, before returning to the sea. Yamane estimates Godzilla to be 50 metres (164 ft) tall, evolved from an ancient sea creature becoming a terrestrial animal, and came from deep underwater, it was disturbed by underwater hydrogen bomb testing. Yamane wants to study Godzilla, but ten frigates are dispatched in an attempt to kill the monster, this fails, Yamane says Godzilla is unkillable, having survived H-bomb testing. The monster next appears in Tokyo Bay and enters the city, destroying everything in its path with its large feet, body and atomic breath, before once again returning to the ocean. While the Japanese Self-Defense Forces construct a 30 metres (98 ft) tall, 50,000 volt electrified fence along the coast, Yamane is devastated there is no plan to study Godzilla for its resistance to radiation, the creature resurfaces in Tokyo, unleashing a more destructive rampage across the city, with increased loss of life. Yamane's colleague, Daisuke Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata), who was engaged to Yamane's daughter, Emiko (Momoko Kôchi), has researched and developed a weapon called the "Oxygen Destroyer", which disintegrates oxygen atoms and the organisms die of a rotting asphyxiation, Serizawa eventually agrees to use the weapon in an attempt to destroy Godzilla, having seen the devastation. Salvage ship captain Hideto Ogata (Akira Takarada), who Emiko now loves, and Serizawa take a navy ship out of Tokyo Bay to plant a device, they find Godzilla using its radiation as detection, Serizawa sacrifices his life to activate the Oxygen Destroyer, the mission proves t be successful, Godzilla is destroyed, many mourn the death of Serizawa, and Yamane believes if nuclear weapons testing continues, another Godzilla may rise in the future. Also starring Sachio Sakai as Newspaper Reporter Hagiwara, Fuyuki Murakami as Professor Tanabe and Ren Yamamoto as Masaji Sieji. It obviously looks dated by today's standards, including the special effects, with cardboard style buildings being destroyed, a man in dinosaur stomping around, and the creature's atomic breath, but that is part of the charm, unlike the many sequels and the American remakes, and there are moments that genuinely grip you, I can imagine it would have been pretty scary in the day, a great old-fashioned science-fiction horror monster movie. Good!
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9/10
A bone-chilling film, not for kids
DarkestOperator20 December 2008
Ever since I was a child, the Godzilla character was one of my favorites. I have seen many Godzilla films but today I have been privileged to have seen where it all began. Godzilla did not begin as a character in a kid's movie. This movie, I must say is NOT for young children. It is very much a mature film, an allegory for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a movie, it is a very dark and tragic one, with numerous references to Japan's suffering during the Second World War. The acting was top-notch as were the special effects (for the time). The music seemed to underscore the ominous nature of the film. I can only imagine what the reaction of the Japanese people was when they first saw this movie 64 years ago. The rest of the world should watch this to see what nuclear power can really do and to see what Japan went through during World War II.

9/10. The first and the best (and should have been the only) Godzilla movie that has ever been released.
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10/10
A giant, radioactive behemoth rises from the ocean to wreak havoc on humanity!
monster_19658 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Well, this is the one that started it all. This is by far the most serious(and one of the best) of the Godzilla movies. Spoiler Alert: There will be spoilers ahead. A fishing ship mysteriously disappears, and then another one. Eventually, after several sightings, a giant, radioactive monster rises from Tokyo Bay and levels Tokyo. The monster is eventually killed by the Oxygen Destroyer, a weapon created by Dr. Serizawa. This movie succeeds in being entertaining and delivering a very serious message.The scenes where Godzilla is destroying Tokyo are very entertaining ( i couldn't take my eyes off of the screen) and very sad(at one point, there is a family in the wreckage of Tokyo, and the mother says something like"Hold on, children. We'll be with father soon."). Plus, we've also got the whole 'love triangle' thing going on, but it ends very sadly, with Dr. Serizawa ( he loved Emiko, but she loved Ogata) killing himself when he kills Godzilla with the 'oxygen destroyer'. Overall, Uber thumbs-up. Sure, some of the dialog is cheesy, and some of the special effects are... interesting, but it was made in 1954. A true classic.
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10/10
A legacy not dependant on platitudes, but well earned.
Emideon13 July 2008
Among the kaiju diaspora, there is constant disagreement worthy of a Star Trek convention (not necessarily a compliment) on every minor detail of a film, running the gamut from aesthetics in cinematography to monster originality to th "realness" or "fakeness" of the godzilla suit in this or that film. The general conversation on Kaiju rarely simmers above that appropriate in a sandbox. However, almost instinctively, each kaiju fan when asked will rank this at the top of the list the genre has produced, glowing remarks follow about its tone, its somber atmosphere, the general sad feeling one felt and of course the importance of the subtext of the whole screenplay. I always find it odd how uniformly they all take their hats off at the mention of this film, like a Casablanca or Citizen Kane of the giant monster movie.

The plot is well known and so I wont detail it. Borrowing much from its inspiration "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" and to a lesser extent "King Kong", it begins with mysterious happenings at sea, reports by islanders are muddled with ancient mysticism and the government goes to check out the evidence. In the midst of this is a love triangle, all linked to apposing sides on the matter of the devastation. The film is above all an anti-war film, the inspiration for much of the film was director Ishiro Honda's journey through Hiroshima in 1945. Godzilla is a symbol, the incarnation really of unstoppable, unreasonable death. Towering over Tokyo and moving slowly across he is war at its core=war against civilians. There are subtle notes scattered all over, the scene where parliament erupts into a shouting match for example, the scientists, men of reason are heard and quickly forgotten, the politicians go on bickering (note also that Serizawa is also a scientist), it is obvious Honda placed little hope on politicians.

I think the general appeal of the film is partly warranted, partly nominal, and partly unavoidable. The warranted aspect is present to anyone who has taken the time to see it more than twice. The writing has been derided by many a critic, for example Roger Ebert (I originally intended to make this review a rebuttal to his) but I found it eloquent, the characters have a sense of restraint, they always seemed urged to say more than they do. I also like the cinematography, the vast number of shots of the beast are from below, from afar, in the distance within a corner like a silhouette figure shining in dark black waters and sky. Sadly its a form never again taken up by the genre, preferring a bland approach, mid sized shots on the center of action so as to not miss out on the tumbling creatures, and even more recently is to ape what Hollywood generally finds to work (the simple angle shots which I think come standard on every camera by this point).

The nominal aspect is the general tendency of people to treat the older movie as above criticism, to be stashed in shrink wrap and on ice. It is sacrilege to speak ill of the original, the "Masterpiece", the serious toned grandfather of all that is rubbery and rampaging. Quick example, I remember noting in passing how I felt Akira Ifukube's score sounded hoarse and almost amateurish in the film, and that the themes took life with Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964). Immediately he defended the score, calling it the best in the whole series from what I gather for no better reason then that it was the original, and the masters work cannot be challenged. Many a film fan will be quick to defend "Phantom of the Opera" or "Nosferatu", and with justified historical and technical reasons, which would be much more entertaining than watching those films again, I may be schooled on the context of them but the context can do little to bring it back from the depths of anachronism.

Finally black and white just looks glorious. As many know color dates a film, but black & white always looks classy and supersedes any particular era, it looks as good in 1932 as it does in 2008, violence is given meaning by simply moving through the contrast, a man walking down an empty street is a non literal expression of his life and thoughts, in color its an extended scene editing mistake. For "Gojira" a monster crushing a city in B & W is a commentary on violence, in color a summer popcorn romp at a multiplex, many-a-time color has no patience for subtext.

In my view, it is the greatest kaiju film, and one of the best films of a golden age of Japanese cinema.

10/10
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8/10
Despite the obvious special effects, the film hasn't really aged at all and this is due to other such things.
johnnyboyz20 June 2008
To criticise the original Godzilla would just be plain silly in my view. Yes everything looks so fake and yes the buildings are models and yes it's a guy in a suit but you know, so what? These are the special effects for the time and just as I complain about the latest Hollywood blockbuster these days and how in some other films the special effects are terrible, Godzilla's may look a little rough now but the un-real elements in this film do not detract from its experience nor do they ever take centre stage above the narrative or the themes within. Godzilla is a focused film; a film that is structured around an idea that is bold and outgoing whilst simultaneously making a statement about the world at the time of production. Godzilla retains a certain charm and a certain quality that never makes it uninteresting and surely that means it can only be labelled as a success.

We've all seen the American remake and all had our opinions on it. I may have liked it as a child as a fast moving, good looking epic but thinking back, it makes the mistakes toward the end that its Japanese original and inspiration does not and that is allowing the special effects to take control of your picture. By the time what's-his-name and who's-it are in that subway station fending off Godzilla's young in a blatant attempt to recreate the kitchen scene out of Spielberg's Jurassic Park, you've accepted the film has gone down a certain disappointing route. But here I feel the scenes involving the special effects are really just the result of good film-making prior to it all happening. There is the introduction of the monster; the keeping the monster away from the screen; the presenting of the monster but not as a destructive creature; the dialogue building the monster up off-screen and then the carnage that is what Godzilla is capable of now that he's reached that level of destruction.

I feel that despite the film being considerably large for its time, the people that made it probably never envisaged it becoming as successful as it did. The film has spawned sequels, prequels, spin-offs and even a remake forty years after the initial production. Hollywood were perhaps familiar with the concept of this big-budget, special effects extravaganza involving a giant monster following 1933's King Kong and were perhaps more used to this genre by the time they'd seen Gojira. But if the rumour that people were running from the cinemas following King Kong are true then I wonder what Ishirô Honda and Shigeru Kayama exactly had in mind before this was released. I think the emphasis was always on delivering a film with an intriguing story and one with some sort of eerie message at its centre, much unlike today's extravaganzas and perhaps a lot less than 1933's King Kong although the message nearer the end could echo along the lines of: 'Just what exactly consists of entertainment these days?'

But it's not Honda and Kayama's fault this is as big as it is today and it's not their fault I saw this on a DVD disc free with a newspaper, complete with huge build up from a preceding television advert, right here in the year 2008. Godzilla may be a film that is a guy in a suit tearing down models of dodgy looking buildings whilst breathing some sort of fire rendering him more ancient, mythical dragon than deep sea lizard but it works in its own way. The film is a folklore story from ancient times, re-surfacing (no pun intended) into modern times through, what the characters deem to be, the lack of attention and acknowledgement to times gone by. It could be true that the legend that is Gojira is angry at the lack of sacrifice or food or whatever it was and he has come to wreck and nasty revenge or it could be a statement on Japan's ever growing modernity that, by now we all know, is the best in the world when it comes to stereo systems, gadgets and gizmos. I don't think the producers were threatening people with a giant lizard that will come from the sea and destroy us but the ruined Tokyo shots are probably metaphors for the falling apart of society if Japan itself looses focus of who they actually are and buckles under the immense pressures of 20th Century modernising.

Then there are the plot elements that declare Godzilla the result of nuclear testing. World War Two had ended a mere nine years ago, ironically in the Pacific with the dropping of Big and Little Boy, respectively. Look what the nuclear blasts have done to us; look at the moral decision we now face: we must rebuild and get going again, but at what cost? No, a lizard won't come from the deep and destroy everything again but if we fall behind then Japan will never once again be a great nation. These are the questions and ideas I think Gojira raises given its timeframe. Then there is the lack of international support offered when Godzilla goes nuts, another statement on Japan's global position and relationship with other world powers following the war? Perhaps. The real-life images of Tokyo decimated from bombing adds to the reality Japan faced and the use of the special effects is smart: it's always model attacking model, not model attacking 'real' like America usually do it today and sometimes in 1933's King Kong. One of the reasons I thought Jackson's was better is because his is CGI fighting CGI. Gojira may borrow from Hollywood's story-telling regarding the morale choice and the 2nd Revelation but the film remains an entertaining and fascinating one all the same.
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10/10
The True King
Scottytrotts3 February 2007
The DARKEST, MOST EMOTIONAL, and TRAGIC MOVIE EVER!!!! not to mention THE BEST MOVIE EVER!!! I've always wanted to see the original Gojira, and now that i've seen it, i am in total AWE. It makes me look at the king of the monsters in a completely different way. What sets this movie apart is the fact that Godzilla is a metaphor/stand in for the atomic bomb. Not another monster movie with a hero that slays the monster at the end, but a movie where the one who defeats (or according to Dr. Yamane MAY have defeated) has a huge decision and responsibility to make, not only that but actually shows the weight on his shoulders, instead of just being like "hmmmm we got the one hand i can do this, but on the other hand i could do that, i think i'll do that" instead in the moment of decision he is pulling his hair out, sweating and it looked like he was about to cry too. Then the innocent people caught in the rampage, they show more emotion then running and screaming like having scenes where they are caught in claustrophobic tight spots watching in horror while trying to hide, and instead of most giant monster movies, shows what happens to some of them like people being torched by Godzilla's fiery breath, and shows the aftermath of what happened to the injured and dieing. Without a doubt an on-screen spectacle.
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8/10
Sets the Standard
darin-elliott17 January 2006
For those who are mildly interested in this movie, you must understand the seriousness of this movie. More than a movie about a guy in a rubber suit breaking toy buildings, Gojira is a very serious consideration about the horrors of nuclear war.

A few items to watch for include:

The first scenes of Tokyo after having been leveled by Gojira (Godzilla) almost mirror the photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings.

The images of the injured people in the hospitals again, mirror the photographs of "survivors" of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

Look for references to the American nuclear tests on the Bikini atolls (they are abundant).

Finally, keep in mind that Gojira is a symbol of nuclear war. The reason that tanks, planes and heavy artillery don't stop it is because once a nuclear bomb is dropped, nothing can stop the devastation. The only way to avoid it is to not be there in the first place.

Gojira (Godzilla, King of the Monsters) is a definite must-see for anyone interested in film-making at its best.
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9/10
Still the best Godzilla movie
ebiros26 October 2005
Director of special effects for this movie Eiji Tsuburaya, (he was the first of his kind in Japan) once commented in an interview that ever since he saw King Kong, he wanted to make a movie just like it. He got his chance in this movie made 20 years later. Tsuburaya commented on the hardship he encountered when he tried to make the first Godzilla suit when right kinds of foam and rubber materials were not yet abundantly available in Japan at the time. He mentioned that he even used concrete to make part of the suit. Eiji Tsuburaya is also the inventor of the blue screen technique which later evolved into today's green screen technique. Modern movie owes Tsuburaya a lot for his pioneering works. Many people mistakenly credit Inoshiro Honda for the fantastic action scenes in this movie but it was Tsuburaya who did the work. Tsuburaya later went on to invent other characters such as "Rodan" and the original "Ultraman" series which is still popular today.

I was raised on the American version of this movie starring Raymond Burr and didn't even know that another "original" version of this movie existed until recently (thanks to IMDb). I ordered the video from Japan and got to see it for the first time as it was created. After seeing this movie, I can now tell the discontinuity in the American version of Godzilla where Dr. Yamane mentions about Godzilla (in Japanese) before it shows up.

This was the first Godzilla movie and it still holds up after 50 years, and what's even more remarkable is the fact that it's still the most realistic rendition of the monster. The production value have never been matched in this genre until the release of "Gamera 1999, Revenge of Iris" in my opinion.

I give it a "9" because acting of Momoko Kochi and other actors are bit spotty, but Kochi made good later by studying hard to become a good stage actress in Shakespearian play, and became one of the best actress in Japan. Kochi also appears in her final role before her death in 1995's "Godzilla vs Destroiya" reprising her role as Emiko Yamane.
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8/10
Gojira Review
thescholar229 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Now I'll talk about Gojira, the Japanese uncut version of Godzilla: King of Monsters which is still pretty good after all these years. It's mostly an allegory against nuclear war and Godzilla is a symbol of what might happen out of nuclear fallout. It takes place in 1954 less than a decade after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A boat goes missing and when the search leads up to Godzilla and it's amazing to see and hear Godzilla's roar for the first time.

All the Japanese treat this disaster like a real event as well and all the people dying the hospital when he attacks the city are disturbing. Godzilla also looks scary in black and white and it really makes the mood sad. Also when you get the part about the oxygen destroyer, you'll be shocked. This movie also made it in the criterion collection as well and has gotten the Blu-ray treatment too. Give this start of the giant monster movies, or kaiju movies, a watch when you can.
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6/10
The First Appearance Of Godzilla
AaronCapenBanner1 May 2014
Ishiro Honda directed this groundbreaking, heavily influential and immensely popular film that sees Japan attacked for the first time by Godzilla, a gigantic prehistoric lizard who has reawakened mutated and angry after radiation exposure from the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of WWII. The Japanese military seems helpless to stop him, since all their weapons prove useless, until troubled Dr. Serizawa discovers the perfect weapon to destroy the monster...if he can bring himself to use it. Though the F/X are primitive by today's standards, the script is unusually adult and sober-minded, with effective direction and music.

First in a long-running(and disjointed) series that is still going today...
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9/10
The film that began it all...
lovecraftfan20001 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I truly enjoy this film. I grew up watching every Kaiju film I could, and have always enjoyed this film particularly. The American release starring Raymond Burr, under the title "Godzilla, King of Monsters", was all I had seen for many years. The original Japanese version is far superior. The original is nearly twenty minutes longer, and has a much more complex storyline. The love triangle is explored more fully, and more is explained about Gojira's appearance. This is a stand alone film, all the others in the original series are sequels to the second film "Godzilla Raids Again", aka "Gigantis, The Fire Monster". The second series starting with "Godzilla 1985" ("Gojira Returns" in Japanese), until "Godzilla vs. Destroyah" in 1996, are sequels to the first film.
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8/10
The original that moved standards...
swedzin15 October 2012
First we had King Kong (1933), one of the most important and first large monster films, than we had giant insects... the point in which you thought that all large monster films are gonna die... but, no worries, Japanese are always there to save the day. Godzilla (1954), is bigger, badder, better, meaner, faster, and more artistic than any other monster films. It's the movie that sets some new standards.

The film was based upon the story of Shigeru Kayama "Gojira" from the words "gorilla" and "kujira" (whale). It's without any doubt one of the most significant SF films in Japanese cinema, and we have a proved fact that this movie has a large number of sequels, a US remake, an animated series and we are expecting something new. This movie of Inoshiro Honda is based upon foundation of already tried stories: A large monster suddenly comes alive, and it's growing in catastrophe for human civilization. You can easily say that the story motives are the same just like in the Frankenstein (1932), for example... But Japanese view of these thing is different. Godzilla is not appearing for some purpose, he is there only for the plot, he is an unstoppable, blind force ready for destruction, and there's also a human's error of his interfere in nature, so by the looks of things, the large monster is some kind of "payback" from mother nature.

The movie has good acting crew, excellent direction, an inspiring and brilliant music score by Akira Ifukube, who also made Godzilla roars, the special effects were also great, done by Eiiji Tsuburaya. And from this moment, this movie is a great inspiration to many more monster films... we are expecting more today.
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7/10
Moral Lesson.
rmax30482315 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Gojira -- a jumbo fire-breathing monster -- is set loose by an atomic bomb and does a terrifying number on Tokyo before being driven off by Mitsubishi Zeros, I mean American-built F-86 Sabres. A scientist has the device that will destroy the monster but is reluctant to use it because the device could be weaponized. He uses it anyway, at the willing cost of his own life.

I kept trying to compare this original Japanese version with the export version made for the American market, the one with a somber Raymond Burr describing the destruction. It wasn't easy because I hadn't seen the Burr version for years.

The isomorph we've been exposed to is almost funny. Burr is wide-eyed and awed. The monster is a man in a ridiculous rubber suit. The visual effects are based on models and give away their true size because of their texture. A rocket hitting Tokyo Bay sends up splashes with drops as big as basketballs.

Yet, though the skeleton of the story and its associated effects are the same, this is a far more serious story. There's nothing much laughable about it. There are extended scenes of the suffering of Tokyo's residents after the raid by Gojira. The hospitals are jammed. Babies wail. It doesn't take much imagination to figure out what memories, only nine years old, were being redintegrated in the collective consciousness of the Japanese viewers. (Kids, we dropped two atomic bombs on Japanese cities, three days apart, at the end of World War II. PS: That would be 1945.) The movie is deliberately invested with moral weight. The scientist who destroys Gojira kills himself so that the secret of his device will never be revealed and used in war. He's already destroyed his notes, but the knowledge is inside his head.

That spirit of self sacrifice is built into Japanese culture and I have no idea whether it's easy or not for most Westerners to grasp that and other subtleties. It's a matter of national character. And not just something as simple as young ladies hiding their giggles behind their hands. When the scientist tells his assistant never to reveal the existence of the secret oxygen destroyer, she promises. Later, when she breaks her promise, she and the man to whom she revealed the secret hang their heads in shame before the scientist and beg his forgiveness. The device may save the world, but they're still ashamed because they've broken a moral code. When I was in the service, a colleague told me wonderingly about his leaving a Japanese cat house and being chased down the street by one of the staff who wanted to return the wallet he'd left behind.

Well -- so much for cultural relativity. In case we might overlook the fact that this story is really about something other than a destructive monster who is a man in a rubber suit, one of the scientists launches into an obiter dictum about how much he hopes no more nuclear bombs will be exploded so they can avoid more Gojiras.

It's a sobering movie.
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7/10
Not your typical monster movie.
kbunck9 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
To me it seems quite obvious that "Gojira" is not just another monster movie; created in Japan, not a decade after the dropping of Nuclear Bombs on the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, "Gojira" serves as an allegory for the suffering of the Japanese people. The scene opens onto a fishing boat that strays to close to a nuclear testing site, reminiscent of the "Lucky Dragon No. 5", the blast which sinks the ship also awakens the feared "Gojira". "Gojira" a feared beast with rock-like skin, likened to the texture of radiation burns, with the ability to shoot radioactive fire from his mouth and whose footsteps leave radioactive fallout in his wake, seems the perfect living depiction of a Nuclear Bomb. The first shot, of that unfortunate ship is believed to be a reminder of the Lucky Dragon No. 5, a ship that when fishing for Tuna, and instead was delivered a heavy dose of radiation from testing done by the U.S Military on Marshall Islands. The ship, well outside the radius was hit with radioactive fallout when the tested atomic bomb was more powerful than the U.S military realized. As with those in the film, who died as the ship sank, the crew of Lucky Dragon No. 5, obtained radiation poisoning and died quickly. This same atomic testing that killed the crew of the ship, is also attributed with awakening "Gojira", a menacing beast that attacks Japan in the same manner as that of an atomic bomb. Unlike an atomic bomb, the Japanese in "Gojira", find a way to stop the monster, with a fictional "Oxygen-destroyer", thought this may seem the typical happy Hollywood ending the fact that "Gojira", the allegorical Atomic bomb (and in some sense the U.S military), was destroyed, shows the true feelings of the Japanese people. The Japanese mindset is one that believes, what's done is done, and instead of dwelling in the past, the Japanese should work toward the future, the very fact that "Gojira" was so popular, helps the outside world realize that even though the Japanese may not mention it, the atomic bombings are always on their minds.
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