Tokyo Terror: an Ethno-Australian Perspective on Gojira (1954)

As a child, my father raised me on 80s metal and action movies, whether it be listening to Queen or watching Arnold Schwarzenegger star in the Terminator, I grew to having an understanding and an appreciation for music and film at a young age. The first real interaction I had with any form of Asian media was watching animes such as Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh, as well as, watching Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee films.

Before watching Gojira, I had never actually seen a Godzilla film before, so I was intrigued to see how the film would be presented, and how much film had changed in the past 60 years. I understood that the film would look campy and very low budget, but in 1954, it was revolutionary and ground-breaking.

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Modern film-making tries to make a movie flow seamlessly, utilising today’s technology to splice scenes together to create this flow. It was obvious in this film how jarring each scene was spliced together, continuously hard cutting from one scene to another. However, there is certainly an appreciation for the attempt to make the story of Gojira flow, especially how they actually had to physically cut the film and put scenes together. Something that I really enjoyed was the synchronisation of the soundtrack with the film, something I did not expect from a film made in the 1950s.

The actual story itself is very intriguing, especially using Godzilla as a metaphor for the atomic weapons used by the US in World War II. In my opinion, the set design was fantastic, and created a realistic representation of Tokyo, and was especially impressive how accurate it was without the use of modern day CGI. The Godzilla costume design was another aspect of the film I was impressed with, and the way Haruo Nakajima moved in the costume, really made the character of Godzilla realistic at the time. There was one scene in particular that annoyed me, when we see Godzilla under water for the first time, Nakajima is walking in the suit instead of swimming. I know it was a small detail, but it just annoyed me a little.

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Gojira was a great way to be introduced with Asian film making and Asian media in general, and is just the beginning into the discovery of the world of Digital Asia.

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3 comments

  1. I think I came into viewing Gojira with a very similar framework, replacing 80s Metal with 70s and 80s punk and Terminator with Western Cult-Cinema. I agree that a lot of the production is jarring but disagree with the story being unable to flow due to the technological constraints as it is a very strong narrative. It would be cool to hear how else your upbringing and interests affected how you understood Gojira.

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  2. Hey man!

    Really liked reading about your own personal account in terms of viewing Gojira for the first time and your background in film and music appreciation. Like you, I agree that the filming techniques and scale within Gojira were phenomenal, – we’re talking about a text from 60 years back, having a huge impact on audiences through it’s immense screen and scale composition. Do you feel like your exposure to Asian media helped with your reading of Gojira, if so, how? Or would you have liked to have been introduced to more forms at a younger age? Because myself coming from a background of abundant Asian media, I feel like I was able to disregard parts of the text that may have come off to some as novelty-esque, unfamiliar or mediocre through my fair share of old school dubbed/translated asian films; reading into the actual narrative a bit more. Let me know what you think!

    -Sonny

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  3. The score of the film was something that really intrigued me. For the most part, the scenes lacked any musical accompaniment, however when music was implemented it added a new level of depth and emotion to the scenes. It’s interesting how you’ve compared the editing technique of Godzilla with modern film. I really enjoyed your interpretation of the film, however it would have been interesting to analyse how your prior experiences with Asian media effected your viewing of Godzilla.

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