Wednesday, 7 May 2014




After seeing this film I get where the hate comes from for the Matthew Broderick starring Godzilla US remake. Whilst that was an entertaining, yet cheesy action film, the tone of the original 1954 Japanese film is a lot more dramatic and political. Whilst there had been monster movies before this one, such as King Kong, really it was new ground for Japanese cinema, which had been used to more dramatic films and samurai movies. It nearly bankrupt the film studio making this film and it was one of the most ambitious and expensive Japanese films of its time. In fact this could well be one of the first Japanese films to use Hollywood style special effects. Godzilla came at a perfect time. Japan was left a poor country after World War II and the Nagasaki nuclear bomb had left a deep and terrible impact on the country. Godzilla is kind of a punk film that breaks the rules. You can tell watching that is a subtle dig at the political climate of the time. An anti-nuke and anti-war film. After all Godzilla is radioative and only exists because of the effects of nuclear radiation. The monster goes on to destroy Tokyo and devastate peoples lives. This is a strong metaphor for the nuclear bomb itself that fell on Japan, and not only devastated peoples lives there and then, but left a horrible stamp on the country that would effect future generations. Godzilla is incredibly well written and very smart, because the politics are kept very subtle and aren't in your face. It doesn't feel like you are watching a film about politics, it's still a very entertaining monster movie. And the final acts of the eye patched scientist character speak even more volumes about the effects of war and nuclear bombs, and it is actually a very moving finale (that I won't spoil).

None of the other Godzilla films even attempt to be so daring and political. That is why the US remake is a bit of a joke, because it doesn't seem to understand the political subtlety of the original film. It's not as moving or as clever, and is just an excuse to go crazy with the latest special effects. Watching this in 2014, I was afraid some of the effects used might look incredibly outdated and cheesy. Whilst Godzilla doesn't look that menacing any more, I was still impressed by some of the practical effects, use of miniatures and in general the way it was filmed. Godzilla is a timeless and influential classic, as well as a daring film to make at the time. It's story is very easy to follow and the character is very memorable and has since become iconic with Japanese culture. If that doesn't make this a masterpiece of cinema, I don't know what else could!

No comments:

Post a Comment