Godzilla

Godzilla

4.6 6
Director: Ishiro Honda

Cast: Akihiko Hirata, Momoko Kochi, Kokuten Kodo

     
 

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One of the longest-running series in film history began with Ishiro Honda's grim, black-and-white allegory for the devastation wrought on Japan by the atomic bomb. As his visual metaphor, Honda uses a 400-foot-tall mutant dinosaur called Gojira, awakened from the depths of the sea as a rampaging nuclear nightmare, complete with glowing dorsal fins and fiery,… See more details below

Overview

One of the longest-running series in film history began with Ishiro Honda's grim, black-and-white allegory for the devastation wrought on Japan by the atomic bomb. As his visual metaphor, Honda uses a 400-foot-tall mutant dinosaur called Gojira, awakened from the depths of the sea as a rampaging nuclear nightmare, complete with glowing dorsal fins and fiery, radioactive breath. Crushing ships, villages, and buildings in his wake, Gojira marches toward Tokyo, bringing all of the country's worst nightmares back until an evil more terrible bomb -- capable of sucking all the oxygen from the sea -- returns the monster to its watery grave. The original film is chilling, despite some rather unconvincing man-in-a-suit special effects, and brimming with explicitly stated anti-American sentiment. All of that was removed for the U.S. release directed by Terry Morse. It was replaced with bad dubbing and tedious added footage starring Raymond Burr. The resulting edit was just another monster movie, but was still popular enough to assure future Toho Studios monster films a wide American release.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
While you might have a hard time convincing most people, Inoshiro Honda's Gojira -- the film whose success launched the long-running Godzilla series and helped to make Japanese monster movies one of the nation's best known exports -- is actually an intelligent and somber parable about the legacy and consequences of the atomic bomb, told from the perspective of a people who had witnessed its impact firsthand only nine years earlier. Unfortunately, the film's serious intentions are muffled in the American release version, which has not only been dubbed and re-edited, but features new footage of Raymond Burr as American newsman Steve Martin (a name that started getting laughs of its own about 22 years after the film arrived in the States), acting alongside a handful of Asian extras who keep popping up in increasingly surreal contexts. While the U.S. cut still holds on to some of the original's dark tone, it mostly trivializes a film that deserves better; while still a low-budget monster movie, Honda's original Gojira manages to convey a genuine respect for the gravity of the issues it raises (leaving little doubt that its fire-breathing monster is, in this context, a stand-in for the bombs which leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki), as well as a compassion for both the victims and the emotionally wounded people who left scars upon their nation while fighting the menace. If the opportunity to see Honda's original Japanese-language version of Gojira presents itself, it's a simple but powerful work well worth your time, while the Americanized cut manages to save the cut-rate spectacle but leave out what gave the original film its resonance.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/22/2009
UPC:
0796019821018
Original Release:
1954
Rating:
NR
Source:
Classic Media
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Time:
1:38:00
Sales rank:
13,192

Special Features

Audio commentary; Making of the suit featurette; Story development featurette; Original theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Akihiko Hirata Daisuke Serizawa
Momoko Kochi Emiko Yamane
Kokuten Kodo Gisaku, Oto Island Patriarch
Fuyuki Murakami Dr. Tabata
Haruo Nakajima Newspaper Employee (Japanese version only)/Power Subs
Toranosuke Ogawa President of Shipping Company
Kenji Sahara Man aboard Ship
Sachio Sakai Hagiwara
Takashi Shimura Dr. Kyohei Yamane
Kin Sugai Miss Ozawa, member of Parliament
Akira Takarada Hideto Ogata
Katsumi Tezuka Hagiwara's Editor (Japanese version only)/Gojira
Ren Yamamoto Sieji

Technical Credits
Ishiro Honda Director,Screenwriter
Akira Ifukube Score Composer
Kuichiro Kishida Special Effects
Hiroshi Mukoyama Special Effects
Takeo Murata Screenwriter
Hisashi Shimogawa Sound/Sound Designer
Tomoyuki Tanaka Producer
Eiji Tsuburaya Special Effects
Akira Watanabe Special Effects

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