Godzilla – A sign of the times.

Alright. So. I am going to be completely honest with you.

Before yesterday, I had never seen a Godzilla film.

From the 1954 original to 2016, there has been 31 adaptions of Godzilla and as an avid film lover, you would think that I would have seen at least one of the last seven, that of which were made in my life time but no.

Growing up, one of my favourite things to do with my brother was draw Manga characters. We would go to the book store and go straight to the ‘How to draw Manga’ books and go home and draw for hours. We watched Pokemon, Sailor Moon, Naruto, One Piece, Dragon Ball Z  and even Yu-Gi-Oh! But being a young child unknowing, I just saw these shows as strictly entertainment, as bright and colourful characters with really cool costumes and capabilities.

Having seen a couple trailers here and there and growing up with three older brothers who love to watch a good action film, especially if the action is produced by a ginormous dragon / dinosaur / reptile monster; I felt as though I could tell anyone the storyline despite never actually seeing the film.

This is a big reason why I never voluntarily watched any of the Godzilla franchise because to me, they all seemed to be very similar in storyline. This is how I thought: A big monster terrorises a city and smashes stuff. Civilians die and some hero character kills the monster, saving the city and everyone is happy.

This was shallow thinking. (But I wasn’t wrong to some extent).

There was so much more to behold than just some surface level plot line of the Japanese masterpiece, Gojira.

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The cover of the original Godzilla – Gojira (1954) (Photo: Geek-E.com)

After watching the original in the Godzilla franchise ‘Gojira’ (1954), I became aware of the films historical relevance in terms of cinematography and its social and political commentary.

I never knew the underlying anti war, anti nuclear message behind the film until my tutor Chris mentioned it and as soon as he said it I understood. I wasn’t sure why but I heard a line and something made me want to write it down in my book. “If we keep conducting nuclear tests, another Godzilla may appear somewhere in the world.” To me this line emphasised fears of nuclear energy and weapons testing, and some how in some way made me think of Donald Trump.

I  saw ways in which the film is a reflection of society in time. The first thing I noticed and it may just be the strong feminist in me, was the 1950’s ideologies in terms of gender roles and the distinction between men and women within society. The lead female character Emiko is, in my opinion, the stereotypical ‘damsel in distress‘.

Now, I understand there a cultural differences between Japanese films and Hollywood films. Though I could not ignore cross of over in terms of costume. I am not strictly saying that one culture copied another, like East from the West, but in regards to what I know as a naive westerner, Emikos costume makes relation to ‘1950’s American housewife’ styled clothing.

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Hideto Ogata protecting Emiko from Gojira, who at this point in the film has been defeated. (Photo: Geek-E.com)

Constantly seeking the comfort and protection from her male counterparts, whether that be Hideto Ogata or Dr. Serizawa, Emiko seems hopeless. Always anxious and scared, a scene with her either contains a scream, a wail or her crying audibly. Also she cant keep a secret.

“THE SHADE OF IT ALL. Tell him you won’t tell anyone. Nek Minut everyone knows #DIGC330” –  Lauren Mulhall (@ldmulhall)

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not hating on Emiko when I say that she is over the top, because I think it is quite humorous and it makes me grateful to see how far the representation of women within cinema has come.

In terms of the cinematography,  I geeked out a lot and could go on forever so here are some scattered thoughts to end on.

I found some of the establishing / landscape shots to be absolutely stunning. Whilst watching the film, I kept thinking to myself  “Wow. Imagine if this was in colour” than I would think “I wish I was there in that moment on set”.

“Even without colour some of these establishing / wide / landscape shots are stunning #DIGC330” – Lauren Mulhall (@ldmulhall)

I totally geeked out in the underwater sequence and how they used the lightness of the smoke in contrast with a dark background to make it seem as though the man in the Godzilla suit was actually walking on the sea bed.

“I’d like to see the cameras that shot the under water sequence. Or even be there to see them shoot it in a tank. #DIGC330 “ – Lauren Mulhall (@ldmulhall)

I found a pleasure in the cuts and transitions use in the film, they were so simple yet so effective and advanced for its time (for film a smooth transition is an intricate and admirable task) and I thoroughly enjoyed that.

“Some of these old school PowerPoint style shot transitions are giving me so much life right now. So smooth. #DIGC330” – Lauren Mulhall (@ldmulhall)

Overall, my experience of the film was very enjoyable and encourage you to watch it too.

Lauren.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 comments

  1. I think that as members of a Western culture, we aren’t used to viewing a film that doesn’t follow the cookie-cutter Hollywood formula you described in your blog. My socialisation in a Western culture has made me expect happy endings in movies – the absence of this in Godzilla made me critically reflect on the horrors of nuclear warfare well after the film, rather than just thinking ‘cool movie’ and never giving the story another thought like I usually do when I view an American film. Interesting cultural difference, isn’t it?

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  2. I think it’s important to compare Gojira to Hollywood films of the time. From a Western perspective, as mentioned by Claudia, we are used to happy endings in movies. The absence of this and the horror that the people felt throughout the film makes us understand and reflect on the impact of nuclear testing and warfare. There is a massive cultural difference between westernised and asian films, however the role of women in these films are a similarity of the time.

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