“Neither man nor his machines are able to stop this creature.”
An American journalist (Raymond Burr) recounts a story of witnessing an atomic sea monster destroying Tokyo, while a scientist (Akihiko Hirata) whose fiancee (Momoko Kochi) is in love with a captain (Akira Takarada) knows now is not the right time to reveal her shift in loyalties.
- Flashback Films
- Japanese Films
- Mutant Monsters
- Nuclear Threat
- Raymond Burr Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that “Japan’s answer to King Kong” began “as a 98-minute Japanese film called Gojira, directed by Inoshiro Honda”, which “won many awards and broke box-office records all over Japan”. He adds that this version, “directed by Terry Morse, eliminates a lot of of Honda’s material and introduces an American reporter… who serves as a narrator and, in cleverly edited scenes, appears to talk to the Japanese characters from Honda’s film”. Unfortunately, as Peary notes, Burr “bungles it” but “what makes both versions interesting — even though they aren’t enjoyable or exciting… is that, unlike all those giant creatures of American SF films of the fifties, Godzilla was not simply a bad consequence of foolhardy nuclear testing.” Rather, the “mericiless monster which kills and destroys with machine-like precision is meant to be the embodiment of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki”. He adds that “this horror film gave Americans one of their first opportunities to see Japanese rage and disgust over what America did to them in August 1945”.
Peary writes about the film at length in his Cult Movies 2 book, where he notes that “even with the popularity of campy (as in bad) movies, [he is] at a loss to explain the cult in American for Japanese monster movies”. He describes how beloved Godzilla — or Gojira — is in Japan, and cites Ed Godziszewski in noting it “is considered… by many to be the second greatest Japanese film ever made, next to Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai” — and that because of its success, “Toho [Studios] produced a wave of science fiction and fantasy films until the mid-’70s”. Peary spends the bulk of his Cult Movies review comparing the two versions of the film (which have been re-released through Criterion with plenty of extras), noting inconsistencies and pointing out ways in which many (but not all) references to the A bomb were deleted in the Americanized version. In GFTFF, Peary concludes that “The Honda version ends gloomily, the Morse version optimistically” — but adds that “only Honda’s version makes a plea for peace and no more bomb-testing”.
Note: As a major cult movie, Godzilla has many fans who have written volumes about it and its many sequels (see Moria’s review for a run-down).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Impressive special effects
- Atmospheric cinematography
Yes, for its cult status.