In 1954, the decades-old monster film genre was transformed by radiation into a brand new thing: the Japanese daikaiju genre. This was started off by Gojira. Is the original article worthy of the title, or is it just the first in a long line of B-movies made for children?
I was going to say here that Gojira is probably my favorite film that I didn’t see until the past few years. That was when I realized that I didn’t see A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13th, or Alien until 2006, and I didn’t watch Gojira that much later than the rest of them, comparatively.
This is actually the first video of mine that was converted into a text review. Which is to say, I did a poorly written video first (I wrote my own section of the script, Matt gets none of the blame for anything that came out of my mouth, other than the fact that I didn’t particularly know what he was going to say until after I watched the video), then I wrote a review paying almost no attention to the video. In this case, I think that works out for the best.
Between 1945 and 1954, massive change was a thing to be expected. This was no more evident than in Japan, a nation that changed almost overnight from a warlike island intent on conquering the world to a country with no military to speak of, heavy ties to the United States, and a presence outspoken against the most powerful weapon in the world. Also, Astro Boy. Japan would never be the same. Read the analysis here.
Nuclear weapons aren’t the only politics that Honda and Murata bring to Gojira. The feelings of a filmmaker who was drafted three times into a war that went on to destroy his country and spent time as a Chinese Prisoner of War in the process are pretty clear here. The discussion between political leaders as to how to react to Godzilla’s appearance devolves rapidly into yelling and squabbling, as the scientists and witnesses in the hearing look on in shame. Another political point worth mentioning is that while the terror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are referenced, the United States is not. Gojira isn’t a call to point blame so much as it is a plea from Honda for nuclear disarmament. Read the review here.
This video was originally posted on Sept 21, 2011 by Mad Matt Inc. Watch the video here.
In the first episode of “Super Kaiju Podcast”, Mad Matt, Bill, and Matt Burkett (“Monstrosities”) talk about their experiences with tokusatsu and Gojira! Watch the podcast here.