The Message Behind Godzilla

 

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My personal context did have a very direct impact on my interpretation of the original Godzilla film.

Other than the obvious impacts, in that the film was created before I was born and thus the cinematography is dramatically different to what I’m used to. There were a few things that stood out to me that had more to do with information and language.

While I do come from a very Australian background, I have spent a very long time studying and enjoying Asian cultures and its entertainment industry (Japanese culture in particular). So there were a few things in this film that stood out for me and may have been viewed differently.

Firstly, the use of more Kanji characters in signage was important. In more modern films, and in Japan itself- most signs are written in Hiragana and Katakana- since it’s easier for the public to read and understand. It really highlighted the time-period in which this movie was created. A lot of the dialogue was also in stilted and in older format- more formal language than the Japanese you would hear in Anime’s or Japanese drama.

Another thing that impacted my interpretation of the film was my extensive study of the Hiroshima bombing that I did as my major work for my HSC. I’ve always viewed Godzilla as a warning from the Japanese people against nuclear warfare and a visual representation of the devastation that was caused to their country.

The visualization of Godzilla and the fact that he’s depicted as an unapologetic monster could very well show the view of the Japanese people towards America. Since the monster never apologized or rectified his mistakes- and to be honest, neither did America. I think that the evolution of Godzilla through constant remakes will help to enforce the ideal of a nuclear free environment (or at least a safer nuclear practice). But that could just be wishful thinking.

The films itself was not something I would usually watch, I don’t enjoy action films. However, it did make me want to look more into the progression of nuclear power and if there’s any counter measures that have been triggered by this film and the remakes after it.

 

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8 comments

  1. I never actually picked up that most of the signs were in Kanji, rather than Hiragana or Katakana – nicely spotted! It would be interesting to watch a more recent Japanese version of Godzilla to see whether the director has moved away from the ‘social exclusivity’ of kanji (eg. only the well educated could understand) to the more inclusive hiragana and katakana.

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  2. It is fantastic to know you have such an informed mindset on Japan and their culture and history. It seems to have impacted the way you responded to the movie in terms of understanding what Godzilla actually represents, and its funny, I never really made the connection of Godzilla representing unapologetic America. And I feel a little ashamed about it, never making the connection, I just simply viewed Godzilla as the embodiment of the nuclear disaster, never picturing the faces behind it. I would have to say, I feel like i know so little about Japanese history and particularly Hiroshima, and I find your perspective refreshing and beneficial!

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  3. I like how you picked up on the differences in formality in the dialogue, I suppose this is no different in the variation in Hollywood films between the 50’s and now. Also, I believe the metaphor for the warning about the danger of WMD’s is more relevant than ever making this film quite relevant for present day. Nice blog.

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  4. I think it’s really interesting how you are able to pick the time period not just by the visuals and language but by the characters themselves. It makes me wonder whether there is that sort of differentiation in more Latin languages (Spanish, Italian, French etc). You could likely find it in other Asian languages.

    I believe that the Hiroshima connotation is definitely valid, but I doubt it was what the directors initially intended. However, whether the directors intended it or not it is an important message to take away from the film. It does makes a poignant comment on the small measures the USA took in remedying the damages done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and should be looked at for future generations in regards to reconciliation.

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  5. I think you integrated your personal reflection really well into this piece, demonstrating a strong exposure and understanding of Japanese culture through your studies. Your comparison in language and dialogue was nicely done and I agree with you notion of Godzilla being the embodiment of America during a period of heightened anxiety following WWII and the surfacing of the Cold War. I think it’s a shame and speaks volumes on our current global state if it takes several remakes told multiple times in multiple adaptations to get the message of a nuclear-free environment across ☹ I would have loved to have seen more hyperlinks or sources throughout your piece, but nevertheless, great post!

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  6. It is really interesting to read a blog that the writer knows a lot about Japanese culture. As everyone’s background affects on the way they observe the world, I find an fascinating point when you mention the way they use the characters. Moreover, the idea that godzilla is the Japanese view towards America is quite interesting. Lastly, I share the same wish of a nuclear free zone as we both believe that it is quite wishful. Good job!!!

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  7. Your insight into Godzilla is definitely one of the most unique I’ve read so far, which comes directly from your extensive studies into Japanese culture. You’ve picked up on little details in the landscapes and the dialogue which others of Australian background, such as myself, missed completely.
    It’s interesting that Godzilla is a representation of the monstrosity of America’s nuclear power, yet there was an American remake of the movie. Do you believe that kaiju movies have been Hollywood-ised to the point where the meaning has been lost? Food for thought xx

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