Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gojira (1954)

Godzilla is a landmark japanese science fiction film directed and co-written by Ishiro Honda with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, produced and distributed by Toho Company Ltd. It was the first of many "giant monster" movies (known as kaiju) to be produced in Japan, many of which also feature Godzilla. 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.

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