Gojira (1954) Reviewed

GOJIRA (aka Godzilla) (1954)
The original Godzilla movie puts the rest of the popular Japanese series in perspective. Unlike the giant green hero he’d become in the later kid-geared movies, this Godzilla (Gozirra is the original Japanese pronunciation) is an obvious metaphor for the atomic bomb (the movie followed the bombing of Nagasaki by only a few years). More of a heart-wrenching disaster movie than sci-fi monster pic, this story concerns itself with a young military couple forced to betray a tragic eye-patch-wearing colleague from their past, to save Japan before it’s stomped and torched right off the map. What’s amazing is how emotionally effective the movie is now, especially if you’re most familiar with the re-dubbed Americanized version which inserted new scenes featuring Raymond Burr (more effectively than you might expect) as an American reporter covering the devastation. The American version’s focus is on the sci-fi thrills, though it DOES manage to retain some of the original’s dramatic heft. But it’s missing Gozirra‘s heart and the sense of urgency that made the movie such a powerful hit upon its original release. Director, Ishiro Honda, would direct most of the series through the sixties, watching his  monster slowly morph from a devastating metaphor to a lovable giant monster protecting Japan from regular monster attacks which evidently just become a part of normal Japanese daily life. While most of those offer their own goofy appeal, Gojira is must-see sci-fi.
****

~ by Number5ive on February 22, 2010.

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