The mighty roar still causes goose-pimples.
An angry, desperate, anguished cry against the inhumanity of man, the original Godzilla (Gojira) remains a powerful drama. In honor of the film's 60th anniversary, Rialto Pictures is touring Godzilla: The Japanese Original across the U.S. It opens in Dallas at the Angelika Film Center on Friday, May 9, as well as other locations; visit the official site for theaters and playdates. The film will also be re-released in Japan, starting on June 7; more information here.
See below for more observations on the movie, from myself, Ben Umstead, and Christopher O'Keeffe, then click through the gallery for more Godzilla imagery and the trailers for the U.S. and Japanese re-issues, plus the original Japanese trailer and more.
GODZILLA: THE JAPANESE ORIGINAL®:
Godzilla ®, Gojira and the character design are trademarks of Toho Co., Ltd. © 1954 Toho Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
"We're Doomed. ... Sayonara."
by Peter Martin
As a child, I saw the butchered Americanized version multiple times, the one with Raymond Burr reporting on the devastating damage wrought by a 150-foot prehistoric monster. On a nine-inch television, to a child, it was completely convincing and utterly terrifying.
I'd heard that the original, Japanese-language version was very dark in its tone and quite direct in its linkage of the monster to the horrors of the atomic bombs dropped on the country. Nonetheless, when I finally saw it, I was still surprised by the pitch-black mood created by director/writer Honda Ishira, his co-writer Murata Takeo, and their collaborators. On that viewing, the anger came through strongly, the feeling that innocent Japanese people had suffered greatly through no fault of their own.
On a very recent viewing, I was struck by different emotions. Early sequences depict the mysterious sinking of fishing boats and the reaction of family members desperate to know what has happened to their loved ones. They push back against the authorities: 'Why aren't you doing more? What aren't you telling us? We need to know now!' Naturally, I thought of family members of the passengers and crew of the lost Malaysia Airlines jet, and the even more recent South Korean ferry that sank with hundreds of young people on board. The desperation is now, sadly, familiar, the feeling that the forces of nature are aligned against mankind, even as man himself is falling into an ever-widening abyss of his own making.
It's easy enough to pick the movie apart for its effects, especially on a big screen. But that would be churlish, and misses the point anyway. More than the monster's rampage, I think of the faces, bawling children violently orphaned, scarred for life, or the television announcer, broadcasting until the last moment: "We're doomed ... Sayonara."