Thanks to modern technology, there are few people today that have not heard of my hero Godzilla. He has wandered through our minds and our hearts for over 40 years, one of the Mega Monsters. I will probably star him in several reviews because this is another project I am sharing with my youth group.
Godzilla, King of the Monsters, 1956
This was the birth of a star. I was 10 years old and terrified. This monster was a huge, fire-breathing, beady-eyed, scaly super King. This was my first monster.
The concept of Godzilla (or Gojira) was the brainstorm of director Ishiro Honda, who was also the co-writer. Feeling the desolation of the aftermath of Hiroshima (hey, I worked with the son of the man that dropped that bomb, future epinion...hmmmm), Ishiro wanted something that would portray the destruction without fully pointing a finger in our direction. Thus, Gojira was born, as a result of a nuclear testing in Tokyo. An unlikely metaphor, to be sure, but he has remained King of the Monsters.
Granted, the release in 1956 was campy, the acting almost funny and the cinematography morose. It nevertheless is one of the best pre-computer era monsters to watch. The only actor I can pronounce or attempt to spell is Raymond Burr, no reflection on the native culture of Japan, but on my own unintelligence.
The Godzilla in this release had a much more chilling roar', probably one of the most recognized sounds in movie history.
It is a new era. Monsters have come and monsters have gone. I'm a more mature person. I've been married, widowed, had children, married again, divorced. I've faced my own monsters; high school, my husband's death, Viet Nam. My buddy, Godzilla, however has remained the same. Still gloriously 50+ feet tall with that murky green/grey scaly body, that tail, those glittering eyes and that great roar. I like Godzilla's little ears and he has great feet, but he really needs his nails done. Oh, and still with Raymond Burr <sigh>.
Acting has not improved, in fact Burr has gotten worse. And though there have been many spinoffs between the 1956 introduction and the 1985 re-release, the idea of Godzilla against Tokyo remains the goal of the movie. With this shot we try to add a story line that fails miserably, we introduce more nuclear devices, we throw in some bug thing on the ship at sea that has no relevance to the movie at all and is never explained.
The military proves an ineffective in killing Godzilla now as it did then, even with niftier weapons. There is a bit more technology in this movie, we are more monster savvy. With this release we give the big guy a kick in the fanny and shove him into an active volcano. Could this be the end of my little friend? Isn't he lonely in his insular world? Doesn't he need a Ms. Zilla?
I didn't find this release as campy as the original, no fun at all except for Burr's ridiculously puerile acting. There is no hidden meaning here like Honda strived for in the original, just a bang for your buck picture release.
Oh where, Oh where did my orange-eyed monster go? Whatever have they done? They've Jurassiced him and taken him to the dark side Luke. No more sweet ears, no horrendously calloused feet, no bad manicure, no scales. He's slimed down and sleeked up. He doesn't stand up with his protruding belly and short legs and spiky tail. And the roar, they took away the roar! He's moved to the Big Apple - what? Tokyo too tame for the big guy now? And, and, and......HE'S a SHE? No! No! No!
Ok, personal feelings aside, we've added a new dimension to the big guy....errrrr....girl. Computers have introduced us to a new genre of monster. Through the study of anatomy, biology and computer sciences, we are able to make a monster that flows and flies. No more jerky motions and stumbling feet. Bah! Humbug!
The pluses are the acting has improved and the music is better. The mouths move in tune to the words (always one of the things I loved most about Japanese films). The graphics and animations are fine and all, but not with my baby. But even with all the computers in all the land he/she/it doesn't really look like he is storming the walls of Jericho in New York, he looked more real in Tokyo among the hills and mountains and volcanoes.
Ah, sleep softly my little prince.
Godzilla is the one constant I can remember for all of my life. He has always been there in some form or another. His perseverance has made him a hero to me. Of course, to attract all the masses, all three versions try to muffle the roar with a love story. As if adding a little tonguing and a little groping will mask the flavor of the movie. The movie is about Godzilla ~ the great and terrible OZ to us all.
It is about facing the unrealistic. It is about good vs evil. It is about this solitary creature striving to live in an unlivable world. Men fear him, other monsters want him. He towers above all creatures, all monsters. In his original form he gives the feeling of being indestructible. He is all things to all man ~ something to be feared and revered. He is the God of Monsters. He is the King of Monsters. He is Godzilla!
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Susi Dawson (SusiDee34)
Live your life with the goal to 'pay it forward' and do one good thing for someone else
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Originally called "Gojira" in Japan, this original Godzilla film features first-rate special effects (better than all the others) and an unusual cast. An American newspaper reporter and a lovely Japanese lady scientist team up to try and stop the 40-story high, fire-breathing monster awakened by radiation exposure.