(Last updated on: October 24, 2023)
Godzilla, the iconic monster brought to life by TOHO more than half a century ago, needs no introduction. Recently, the Japan Association in New York City held a special event. They presented a long-preserved 35mm print of the original 1954 Godzilla film to honor the King of the Monsters. Additionally, audiences get an exclusive preview of Takashi Yamazaki’s live-action film, “Godzilla Minus One,” scheduled to hit US theaters on December 1.
However, Godzilla is not just another strange creature; it’s a powerful metaphor for the haunting specter of nuclear weapons. The importance of this film has endured over the years, resonating even in newer interpretations like Hideaki Anno’s “Shin Godzilla.” The Japanese Society succinctly summarizes the creature’s lasting legacy as follows:
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“Godzilla is considered the roaring patriarch of all monster movies, while also being a melancholy and deeply human drama born in a struggling post-World War II Japan with the consequences of nuclear testing in the Pacific. This rampaging radioactive monster, a poignant symbol of a nation’s collective fear, has evolved seven decades later into a beloved international icon, spawning more than 40 sequels. ”
Decades may have passed, but Godzilla’s appeal remains undiminished. This film masterfully blends a variety of genres, from insightful political commentary to elements of horror, action, and even romance. Tensions escalate throughout the runtime as Godzilla’s presence means the ships’ ominous disappearance. The audience, aware of the monster’s crimes, cannot help but be drawn into the characters’ obvious anxiety.
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As the film approaches its climax, it shows its age, especially during Godzilla’s city-destroying rampage. Clay and toy effects that may have been groundbreaking for their time now cause laughter among modern audiences. However, it is important to appreciate these pioneering techniques in their historical context. The original 35mm print, featuring a relatively tiny ‘zilla, still manages to evoke terror, with particularly eerie eyes.
Watching Godzilla on 35mm, in glorious original black-and-white with an unmistakably 1950s soundtrack, is a transporting experience. It serves as a poignant reminder of how cinema has evolved over the decades. Akihiko Hirata, who plays the eyepatch-wearing and self-sacrificing Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, certainly stands out as the film’s best character.
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After the screening, audiences were given a tantalizing glimpse of “Godzilla Minus One.” The connection was made clear from the start, as this film also immerses viewers in 1950s Japan. The visuals capture the era’s quaint yet mesmerizing architecture, its troupes of the wooden and iron ships of yesteryear as well as the blending of Western fashion with traditional Japanese styles. The action sequences, reminiscent of the style of Michael Bay, provide an exciting departure from modern versions of Godzilla, focusing on how Japan can confront this iconic monster decades ago, with the artistry of contemporary cinematography.
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Mizo Lalthanmawia, from Mizoram, is a K-pop and K-drama fan who channels her passion for Korean culture into her part-time writing business, aiming to captivate readers with her stories Just like she was captivated by Korean art.