Godzilla – a story that never gets old

This is not so related but please tell me if I’m wrong. The few things pop up in my head when a Westerner mentions Asia media are Kpop and anime. Godzilla the original, for me, was a blast. Growing up, Japanese film in my mind were purely about Pokemon, Doraemon, Inuyasha, Ghibli anime and teen romance. Most of them are around very personal stories, around thoughts and emotions of a single person or a small group of people. In shorts, they’re more of drama, and they strongly reflect Japanese culture.

Hardly could I think such a blockbuster came from Japan. I’m not a huge fan of monster movies, because you can always tell the plot without watching the whole movie. The last monster movie I saw was Jaws, which was truly entertaining, but nothing much in the message. But don’t get me wrong, it has always been a nice movie for me.

Watching Godzilla for the first time yesterday (I haven’t seen any Godzilla movie before), I expected something dramatic but still kawaii. It turned out to be really Western. The theme music strongly reminded me of Jaws, the old kind of music used in old thriller movies that still causing rapid heartbeat. The monster, which is said to has traditionally been portrayed by an actor wearing latex costume, look more like a metallic dinosaur to me, since its moves looked so much like the shark in Jaws. Besides, watching an old school blockbuster without CGI is such a fresh feeling. Though it looked like children toy, the film was strangely gravitative. However, it was the message that most audiences were interested in, or at least in DIGC310 class. It was not a message like “With great power comes great responsibility” or a metaphor for a country’s or the power of human, it related directly to war and consequences of it, specifically, the nuclear tragedy happened to Japanese people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki almost 10 years ago. More interestingly, the strongest reference to the WWII in my opinion is, the skin texture of the reptilian was inspired by the keloid scars seen on survivors in Hiroshima.

hiroshima-bomb-radiation-and-metahealth-by-ms-anu-mehta-17-638

Those images suddenly brings me back to thousands of kids who are the victims of Agent Orange released during the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War has become history for over 40 years, toxic legacy of Agent Orange lives on. Many of them weren’t born during the war, but they are the descendants of the veterans, or worse, born and raised in the contaminated land. War may be over, but the fear and the scars it left, stays, and it doesn’t only hurt those who eye-witnessed it but also the younger generations.

Lastly, guys, sorry for the disturbing images.

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7 comments

  1. I didn’t previously know the skin texture was designed to remind viewers of Keloid scars. You make a very powerful and personal connection to the long term consequences of biological and nuclear war. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I definitely forgot Jaws is a monster movie, it always seemed like a thriller in my mind because of the faceless nature of it, I forget Jaws was technically a ‘monster’. You’re right about the message of Jaws, and that is where Godzilla excels in its genre. A monster is not a monster, he is more like a mirror, reflecting back and not ever truly showing what he really is. Godzilla is the monster reflecting humanity’s brutality and pain. It’s so strange that on one reading, Godzilla represents the evil, and the other, he represents the victims and their physical/emotional injuries. How can he represent both at the same time? Was great to hear your thoughts!

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  3. The way you talked about your initial perception of Japanese films before viewing Gojira made me reflect deeper on my initial understanding of it too! I remember as a child I consumed a lot of anime and manga including Pokémon, Mew Mew power and Spirited Away, all of which inspired me to create short comics. Your post brought to light those forgotten memories which in turn informed my pre-conceived notion of Gojira. I agree with your perception of the film as western, but do you think this could be because the film works off raw human emotions, like fear and sadness, which play a big role in western films as well? Considering the context, the theme of war and violence was prevalent throughout many films of that time (and today), regardless of culture. The inspiration of Keloid for the overall aesthetic of Gojira was very interesting, and I think the symbolism behind this use is very powerful as it speaks a message that transcends context and history; the physical and mental scars of war. I think it is one of those many elements that makes this film so special and memorable.

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  4. Hi Trang, I understand your comparison between Gojira and Jaws through it’s effects and scale for it’s time, and it allows us to appreciate cinema for what it was back in the day. Your post struck a chord with me, as I come from a Vietnamese background and am fully aware of the impact of Agent Orange within the country. It was very eye opening through your analysis of the texture of Gojiras skin and that of Keloid scars where like the nuclear testing in Japan during WW2 left the nation in a stricken condition in many forms. It’s interesting to be able to acknowledge these events and and draw such fine links to the people and nations of different conflicts. I was able to interpret your post through a wider avenue, having been tethered closer through my own heritage. Do you think this then exploits those who had been affected with/by keloid scars through representations in mainstream/Asian media? I would like to hear your thoughts!

    -Sonny

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    1. I (somewhat) agree. The original purpose of showing these images on the media was to let the images itself speak the truth, but there is a fact that, nowadays, in Vietnam, most people look at them with a feeling of pity, and another fact is, they have been used as a means of fraud.

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  5. Hi! The consequences of war, especially with regards to nuclear energy, was also brought up in my class too. Referencing the skin texture of the scars that were due to the even was quite interesting and something that I didn’t know about. What was even more interesting was the comparison that you made between the Keloid scar tissue and the texture they used on Godzilla. You have made a very powerful and personal account between the text and your understanding of history. Because of this, your autoethnographic account was powerful and very interesting to read.
    I think in order to enhance your post you should definitely include some hyperlinks; this will allow the reader to gain more of an understanding and also help to back up your statements with sources.

    Fantastic post!

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