‘GOJIRA’: Reaction + Thoughts

Originally posted on: mc560.wordpress.com/

Those people who know me well, will (rightly) tell you that I am a massive film geek. So when I found out that we would be watching the 1954 allegorical B-movie ‘Gojira’, I was naturally thrilled. As the film started, I began to think about the differences between the Japanese film industry and the Hollywood film industry.

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As I said in one of my tweets posted during the screening, NO-ONE makes genre films quite like the Japanese. Unlike many (there are exceptions) Hollywood blockbusters, Japanese blockbusters always seem to try to incorporate some  form of social, religious or political context. With this in mind, it was fascinating to watch the way that ‘Gojira’ uses genre (in this case b-grade sci-fi) in order to make a bold allegorical critique of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WW2. Contrastingly, if you look at the 2013 remake ‘Godzilla’ (which I actually kinda liked) you’ll notice that it has none of the original’s political undertones, but is more interested in establishing Godzilla as a major player in the new MonsterVerse (as is now the trend).

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Having said this, it doesn’t mean that all Japanese films are as smart as ‘Gojira’ and that all Hollywood blockbusters are simply disposable pieces of entertainment that exist solely for financial reasons. It just occurred to me, as I watched ‘Gojira’, that very few American film-makers would be make such a ballsy, political blockbuster.

Another difference between the two film industries, which I briefly discussed with my tutor after the screening, is the perception of their audience. By making such a allegorical film, the director of ‘Gojira’, Ishiro Honda, clearly perceives the audience to be clever enough to understand the ideas and messages that the film is trying to convey. Hollywood, however, often believe that a blockbuster has to be ‘dumbed down’, in order to satisfy audiences and are often very reluctant to finance big-budget films with complicated narratives or concepts (although this trend is starting to die down, thankfully).

In the end,  the screening of the 1954 ‘Gojira’ was an eye opening experience which led to a deeper understanding of the way the Japanese film industry works and the differences between them and Hollywood.

Until next time…

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4 comments

  1. I think one of the values that Japanese content creators hold dear to themselves is that they believe messages are more powerful being delivered in the form of a demonstration rather than being deliberately spoken out. Gojira is a prime example of this

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  2. Hi there,

    I really liked your reflection post, it was definitely a different way to reflect on watching Gojira! It really stood out from the others as you argued the differences between the typical Hollywood blockbuster films and the Japanese blockbusters. Your reaction and thoughts of the Japanese & Hollywood film adaption were interesting to read, and made me re-think my perceptions of these too!

    To strengthen your blog post you could reference to supporting materials in order to better justify your arguments of Hollywood blockbusters being ‘dumbed down.’

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  3. ” Japanese blockbusters always seem to try to incorporate some form of social, religious or political context.” This quote really stood out to me. I was unaware of the fact that it is a common trope for Japanese film makers to make comments about political events through film before I watch Gojira. I understand now that this is something that can create that extra meaning to the film, and the audience will appreciate it more. I agree also that Hollywood have the tendency to dumb down films and meanings, unlike how the director of the original Godzilla created a film with nuance and with underlying messages.

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  4. Great discussion of the differences between Japanese and Hollywood film industries! I also think a major difference between Hollywood film and International film industries is that in Hollywood when portraying a hero in film, they focus on their physical characteristics whereas in International films such as Gojira, they focus on the morals of the character as being a hero such as Dr. Serizawa who looked like a simple guy but it was his selfless act of killing Gojira and then himself so no one could ever use the deadly weapon he created which made him a hero in the film.

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