Gojirathon 1: Gojira (1954)

G: minus 37 days

Gojirathon is me just writing up some thoughts about the movies I see while I conduct my little marathon of Godzilla-movies in anticipation of the new Hollywood retooling. Why Gojirathon and not Godzillathon? Well, because Rolfe already did his Godzillathon as part of his Monster Madness, and I don’t want to steal his work. I’ll be using the terms, G, Big G, Godzilla and Gojira somewhat interchangedly… since I can be a bit lazy at times, when it comes to these things.

Gojira (1954)

< Beware. Beyond Hither Be Spoilers! >

The first movie of the series, and probably one of the darkest ones. I can’t really remember when I started hearing about this giant lizard and his escapades through towns and cities of the japanese countrysides. I do remember though that the first movie with the Big G that I saw was a showing of Godzilla vs Space-Godzilla on a Swedish Movie Network called TV1000 on satellite. The image was probably fine for it’s time (pre-digital SD on a 28 inch CRT) but I remember that the subtitles were missing. They spoke Japanese. And even while I could read a bit of English at the time, the Japanese language for me was mainly the gibberish that samurai and ninjas spoke. Still. It intrigued me, even as I didn’t start watching the film until a while in. Wow. Finding movies mid-way through while channel-surfing. And actually settling down to watch it without having seen the beginning. Wow… remember those days, you NetFlix savvy youngsters?! DO YOU!? I feel old.

Anyway. The first film produced. Yes. Well. I sat down today and re-watched the one that started it all. And yes. In many respects. It still holds up, while being somewhat a child of it’s time.

One should however realize, and I do too. That the basic premise of the first Gojira isn’t exactly original in it’s first form. The plot elements are familiar to most other creature-features of the time. Nuclear Power (or similar science) unleashes and turbocharges a monstrous entity that at first seems unstoppable and then with great sacrifice it is thwarted in its path of destruction by new ways of science.  It also borrows heavily from it’s peers like Beast from 20.000 Fathoms released the year before and even the original Lost World (not the Jurassic Park one). Though, he’ll also soon do battle with the spiritual successor to that dinosaur-flick.

So in the last paragraph I sort of skipped over two strange things. Firstly. Yes. King Kong vs. Godzilla does exist. And I’ll get to that one in a couple of films. And also. Yes. Godzilla DIES at the end of the first one. And no. It’s not like some sort of “maybe it just looked like it” sort of thing either. No. The almost maddened professor in an eye-patch unleashes his “oxygen destroyer” (maybe that’s where the name Desutoroyah comes from later on in the series?) and literally turns the whole of Tokyo bay into a bath of acid that eats away at G’s flesh until only bone remains.

So, yeah. G is dead by now already. So who is in the other films? Well, apart from the Hollywood version from 98, it is pretty much established in each and every one of the sequels that while the other movies might not be canon. At least the 54 original is. So we are left in a situation where sometimes the remains are the ones that continues to have a long standing quarrel with knee-high pagodas and sometimes it is a kind of brother thing. But as one goes along this series one soon realize that just like the question of who James Bond really is (my money is that it’s just a code-name. like 007), it doesn’t really matter. It quickly became more of a thing to make the story more and more outlandish as the series went on.

But while the creature-feature wasn’t really original. There was one thing that it arguably did start. And that was probably due to budgetary constraints than anything else. Because, while most monsters where done as either miniature puppetry with stop-motion or even just regular animals coupled with optical trickery to look bigger. The guys at Toho instead opted for a simpler method. Just putting a man in a rubber suit and filming him knocking houses over. Easy. Simple. Cheap. And a process that the folks at Toho has stuck to almost all of the time all the way up to 2004’s Final Wars.

Yes. It is the first one. And while it has it’s flaws (the anti-nuclear-weapon-message can be more than a bit on the nose at times) and the tone is dry and dire throughout without that much of comic relief. All while that. I really enjoyed watching it again. And after this. There was Godzilla Raids Again.  Maybe I’ll watch it tonight. Maybe I won’t. But until then.

Be  Seeing You!

PS

Oh, and read this article on the screenwriter of the coming movies. It’s very informative: http://filmmakeriq.com/2014/04/shinichi-sekizawa-the-guy-behind-the-man-in-the-suit/

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