Gojira (1954)

GOJIRA (1954)
Article 3587 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-23-2011
Posting Date: 6-10-2011
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Featuring Akira Takarada, Momoko Kochi, Akihiko Hirata
Country: Japan
What it is: Kaiju – the beginning

A wave of shipping disasters is brought about by a giant radioactive prehistoric creature let loose upon the world by the A-bomb tests.

I’ve already covered the Raymond Burr version of the movie, but since IMDB (which I use as a guide to help me) will occasionally create separate listings for two versions of the same movie when they diverge sufficiently, I now have the opportunity to review the original, undiluted Japanese version. In truth, the American version doesn’t do a bad job of adapting the movie, but it just doesn’t have the emotional punch of the original, especially in the ways it develops Takashi Shimura’s scientist character and fleshes out the love triangle that proves significant in the way it dovetails with the final efforts to destroy Godzilla. I also found the post-destruction sequence to be much more powerful as well. Outside of that, I found myself enjoying some of my favorite moments and images from this movie; I love the shot of Godzilla behind the aviary at one point, and though I always find Akira Ifukube’s score gripping, I’m particularly taken by subdued and sublime music used during the final underwater sequences. Looking over the cast list, I can’t help but notice a few cool cameos; two of the actors who play Godzilla appear as an editor and a power station worker at one point, and the hand that flips the switch on the electric fence is that of Ishiro Honda’s.

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