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Musing on GOJIRA

By Richard


So, for this musing I went with the King of Subjects, GOJIRA, King of the Monsters. Since this is a musing and not a heavily researched and annotated essay, I will be focusing more on my thoughts and feelings for the big guy (girl?) and what it has meant to me growing up.

  GOJIRA was born out of Japans film industry attempts to show the perils of nuclear war. Probably never intended as more than a random political statement on the dangers of nuclear war and energy, Godzilla, King of the Monsters as it came to be called here in the states, instead was so successful in Japan that it was exported to the U.S., where a completely refigured movie was schlocked together with added scenes featuring Raymond Burr talking to a green screen- a lot!. Strangely enough, it not only succeeded here in America, it returned to japan in its new form and rocked the Japanese box office again! Sensing many yen to be made, but having killed off the main monster at the end of its debut movie, Toho instead tried recreating it as Gigantis the Fire monster, a thinly veiled sequel that was eventually admitted by most Kaiju fans into the Godzilla “canon”. Even this hasty rip-off was successful, encouraging Toho Studios (and other imitators) to pump out more films in the Kaiju style (basically giant monsters rampage, scale model cities and actors in big rubber monster suits).

    As time went by and the decades piled up, GOJIRA degenerated, both in a cinematic sense and in a costume sense. The movies got sillier and “kid friendly”, the monster suits fell into noticeable disrepair, the scale model cities less intricate and profits understandably declined. But somewhere amid the decline, some movie people realized GOJIRA was a Japanese Icon, not just a quick money grab at the Japanese box office (and the U.S. box office as Kaiju films still did well here).  Many have been the attempts to return GOJIRA to his/her rightful place at the top of Monsterdom. Some have been partially successful (Godzilla 1984) and some have flopped miserably (think that tuna eating wannabe). Lately, the attempts have been much better, showing the respect and reverence due a movie Icon.

  I remember being fascinated by the original as youth growing up, and having a love for dinosaurs did not hurt! Seeing the original Godzilla –or its unaltered original form Gojira- for the first time is an experience. The film makers knew not to put GOJIRA on screen to much at the beginning and to flesh out the human supporting cast so the movie would be good. It worked. It worked very well indeed, with the first views of GOJIRA being his head peering over the top of a small mountain and his tracks going into the sea, suspense was created and maintained for the rest of the movie. Later films eschewed the suspense for monster fights and urban destruction, which while entertaining, was not good film making.

   I was reminded of the GOJIRA movies recently because- TA- DA!! They are releasing the newest GOJIRA movie this October! Called Shin Godzilla (roughly translates as Godzilla Resurgence) it looks incredibly bad ass and devastating! Hoping for the best, I will be watching it as soon as I can! 


Previously on Minion Musings...