I’m a sucker for Godzilla, going all the way back to the 1954 Japanese original — ‘Gojira’. In 1956, it was re-released as Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, which utilized much of the original film. This version featured newly shot scenes with Canadian actor Raymond Burr spliced into the original Japanese footage. We have a great two DVD set that features both of these titles for comparison.
In the early films Godzilla is used as a symbol to represent the horror of nuclear war and ever since the film's initial release, Godzilla has been culturally identified as a strong metaphor for the danger of nuclear proliferation.
Putting an actor in the Godzilla suit had actually been a last resort. The studio had been deeply impressed with the stop-motion animation method used in King Kong but it was considered far too costly and time-consuming. It was decided that the easiest way to go was a stuntman in a monster suit, and a scale-model of Tokyo. This also proved difficult. The first attempt at a Godzilla suit was far too stiff and heavy, & nearly impossible to use. They finally hit on a design that worked but that too was gruelling. The stuntmen would suffer numerous bouts of heat exhaustion and dehydration and the suit had to have a valve to drain the sweat from it. Also, in order to avoid suffocation, the suit could only been worn for three minutes at a time — some estimates put it at weighing in at 200 pounds.
CPL also has King Kong versus Godzilla, a 1962 Japanese Kaiju film produced by the same Toho Studios that first conceived the original Gojira. It was the third instalment in the Japanese series of films featuring the much maligned monster. There is also a Matthew Broderick Godzilla version from 1998 but don’t waste your time looking for it- it is marginal at best.
Kaiju , is a Japanese word that translates to "strange creature." Kaiju films usually showcase monsters of any form, typically attacking a major Japanese city or engaging another monster in battle. This concept was put to great effect in last year’s Pacific Rim, another movie I really liked and have blogged before. Put aside all your critical reasoning and just enjoy as you watch giant malevolent Kaijus battle massive robots called Jaegers. Good clean (if highly destructive) fun!
This post was inspired by the latest Godzilla currently showing in theatres. If you are a fan you'll like the homage they pay to the original concept and if you aren't, chances are good you'll like it anyway. Worth your time and your money and the first film in what looks like a fairly good summer season shaping up.