‘WELL IT’S BIG AND AWFUL’

Link to blog: https://startingwithabang.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/well-its-big-and-awful/

 

I’ll be the first to admit that Japanese media is not my first choice when it comes to entertainment. I’ve never really gotten into anime or cosplay. Though I do have friends that do, so I have had some exposure to it. I’m not a huge fan of animation, I much prefer autobiographies, horror, thriller, comedies or documentaries.

So when the first film we had to watch for Digital Asia was the original 1954 Japanese ‘Godzilla’ or ‘Gojira’, I was slightly hesitant, but also interested to see what 10/10 special effects existed back in 1954.

Main theme song Gojira 1954:

Well I have to say the film did not disappoint! I was quiet impressed with the visuals and the myths surrounding Godzilla. The main myth was that there was something that lived under the ocean near the village, and to prevent it from attacking the village every few years a young girl would be cast out on a boat as a sacrifice to the monster. But radioactive testing in the waters had made the minster stronger and more ferocious then before, making it attack the village.

The film also had an environmental message. From Godzilla becoming almost indestructible from the nuclear testing in the water, the importance of recognizing and stopping that. This aspect of the film that struck me an unusual for a film like this. Or such an old film when environmental issues were not a concern of the public’s I found it very interesting that they had scientists worried about the effects of the nuclear fallout.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 4.11.32 PM

Source: http://www.tinymixtapes.com/news/death-waltz-to-reissue-original-1954-godzilla-soundtrack

The aftermath of the atomic bombs on Japan was still quiet raw at the time of the film, and this showed.  The stress from it is displayed by characters in reference to World War II. I found this to be refreshing as the movie is fictitious, yet referenced the effects that nuclear weapons can have.

Overall my first viewing of a black and white Japanese movie was surprisingly good. It was just like films I am used to watching (mainly American, Australian or European films) but with subtitles. I believe that most of the Japanese terms translated well, though some were a little hard to get exactly correct. Like any film produced in 1954 the special effects weren’t world class, but the use of miniature sets was very clever and really made things look believable.

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3 comments

  1. I think Gojira is a good film to ease a modern, Western audience into Eastern cultural touch stones. It’s a concept that’s immediately understandable; huge monster thing attacks people, people are spooked and attempt to (fruitlessly) fight back. This is a universally understood story these days among audiences worldwide, but this film all but INVENTED that genre!

    That said, it is deceptively sincere and human which goes a long way to bridge that cultural gap, more so than I’d think Akira is able to do because it is so stylized and has a bizarre story-line. Did the film make you interested in seeing any other Godzilla films by the way? They got more serialized and much less intellectually weighty, but are a good laugh haha.

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  2. Very nice post Gabbi, you summed up my feelings towards the film exactly. I found that it flowed well and was quite easy to read, which determines whether or not I get past the blogs first paragraph 😉

    I found it interesting your point on the films nuclear and environmental message, which I assume had to do with the deep connection the Japanese people associate with their environment and the meaning of life. It was also beneficial I found that you expressed your concern about the film, be it it’s age or nationality of production, as that allows us to appreciate the views and findings of your viewership; which is the fundamentals of autoethnography.

    Todd.

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  3. I am a bit late to the party – but I wanted to add my thoughts on your post as I found it quite engaging.
    I also tend to have a bit of a disconnect myself when it comes to experiencing foreign cultures. I like to think that I’m somewhat cultured – heck, I went to a Cherry Blossom Festival recently (disregarding the fact that I was only there with friends to take their pictures) so watching Godzilla was quite a new experience for me, not just as an experience for it’s status as a cult film, but an interesting look into the culture of 1950s Japan as well.
    I quite like that I wasn’t the only one to pick up on the obvious environmental and political messages of the film. However I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that the consequences of such weren’t just thrown in there for drama or a quick plot device, but actually was the centre of the film itself.
    I admire that Japan seems to highly value its scientists even back then – as opposed to our highly Christian western nations being entirely skeptical of the slightest breakthrough in science (some people STILL believe the earth is FLAT and only 3000 years old!). They all seemed so formal and polite, something you’d never really see in our own crisis meetings. The Japanese seemed so efficient even when they didn’t know what the heck was going on.

    Personally I am a huge fan of practical effects, so I really liked the miniature sets. Even though in some parts they seemed to not have dated so well, in my opinion, I feel I could watch this way more times without being fatigued than if I were to watch a film with CGI effects created in the 80s, when rendering technology wasn’t so advanced.

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