An ethnic’s realisation that she doesn’t know much about anything, especially Godzilla

Memories of my childhood include sitting on the floor of my Nonna and Nonno’s place, attempting to interpret the classic Italian film ‘La Dolce Vita’, or watching RAI Italia and completely zoning out due to having no clue what’s going on. Throughout my life, this kind of experience had been the extent of which I had been exposed to foreign films. These experiences with my Italian family are memories that I hold dear and believe shape the beliefs I have today.

Yesterday, I experienced a Japanese film for the first time.

I went into class not knowing anything about the Godzilla films at all, let alone Japanese films. Yet I came out of the experience mildly confused but extremely intrigued. I should be completely honest here too, realising I was going into class to watch a 1950’s Asian film at the beginning of the semester didn’t make me too excited, and why was this? Is it purely because I’m not exposed to other movies of this genre? Or I am exposed to this media, yet have really felt the urge to indulge?

As the movie began, and the live tweeting process was underway I noticed a few things that were different to the movies I usually watch. The over-dramatic acting was something we’re not used to in Westernised media and movies. Although this was weird to experience, it was understandable as it was a movie created in the 50s, and with little to no CGI enhancements, reacting to the monster ‘Godzilla’ was quite over the top.

The transitions between scenes were also quite dated, reminding me of the transitions between powerpoint slides back in the day when funky powerpoint slides gave you +10 marks for your presentation.

Something that was also surprising to encounter and also quite uncomfortable and awkward to experience was the lack of sound in some of the scenes. Why were there no ambient sounds? Why was there no bubbling when they were underwater at the end? I was truly thankful to the live-tweeting as the typing made up for the awkward silences.

I’m going to be quite honest with you. I had no idea that this Godzilla film had any relation to what Japan went through post WWII. And other than general knowledge, I haven’t actually been exposed to much of Japan’s history. I gave up History as soon as I could in High School – I was not a fan. I study Speech and Drama out of uni and once had to study a poem named ‘No More Hiroshimas’ by James Kirkup. The poem explores a town in Japan following the horrors that unfolded the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The final two stanzas of the poem are as follows:

The other relics:

The ones that made me weep;

The bits of burnt clothing,

The stopped watches, the torn shirts.

The twisted buttons,

The stained and tattered vests and drawers,

The ripped kimonos and charred boots,

The white blouse polka-dotted with atomic rain, indelible,

The cotton summer pants the blasted boys crawled home in, to bleed

And slowly to die.

Remember only these.

They are the memorials we need.

After watching Godzilla, the parallels between post WWII and the movie soon unfolded, with the symbolism of power being quite clear throughout the movie and especially in the ending. Unfortunately, I believe if it weren’t for the experience of studying the poem, I wouldn’t have put together that Godzilla was representing the trauma that Japan as a country dealt with after the war.

Not only the metaphor, but the make of the film in general was definitely a worthwhile experience, and being 100% honest, I believe that if it weren’t for taking the Digital Asia class, I probably would have never exposed myself to this type of media. It’s really opened my eyes to the differences in culture and what I’ve been taught through the westernised media that I’ve grown up and am fond of watching. It’s definitely opened me up to being excited for more experiences throughout the Digital Asia subject.

Advertisements

5 comments

  1. Really enjoyed your approach here, setting up your cultural background and how it worked to frame your experience with the movie is excellent. Great use of the live tweets. Thanks also for sharing that powerful poem.

    Like

  2. Hello,
    Like you I do not have a of experience with foreign films, let alone a black and white film about Godzilla from the 1950’s. The film was definitely different to Western films in the way that it is constructed, the editing, the acting and especially the sounds. Also the importance of Gojira as a metaphor, I had no idea that this was reference to Hiroshima and WW2, and the wound was still fresh for that matter. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/10788996/Godzilla-why-the-Japanese-original-is-no-joke.html Here is an article that explains the importance of Gojira and how it portrays him as the man made apocalypse

    Like

  3. Your integrated personal reflection provided a really nice foundation to your post and it informed me as to why you reacted to this film in the way that you did. I suppose after growing up watching classic films like La Dolce Vita, and other western films that commonly utilise the theme of romance, it becomes strange to view films such as Gojira that have such a focus on violence and despair. Similarly, I was confused by the overacting, especially on Emika’s part, but I feel that was typical for that time e.g. damsel in distress.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/10788996/Godzilla-why-the-Japanese-original-is-no-joke.html. This article was great at pointing out how confronting Gojira must have been for its initial viewers due to the devastating events that occurred around that time.
    Although the acting may appear B grade to us now, I believe it was a very close depiction of the reality some people were living then. Besides, no acting can be as B grade as that of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NOlzW8hx5A.

    Like

  4. This post was relatable, especially your introduction to foreign films as a child. Your observations about the overacting are similar to what I experienced in this film as well. You have touched on some really interesting points, especially in relation to the WW2 and nuclear metaphors. The inclusion of the poem gives a deeper understanding of the context surrounding this film.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s