Godzilla and I weren’t friends before this subject, not even acquaintances, if I’m being honest all I really knew about Godzilla was from a short trailer I’d seen for the American version and perhaps a spin off on a Simpsons episode, and I honestly didn’t have any interest in it. Infact I wouldn’t say I had watched many 50’s movies aside from Rebel Without a Cause (American) and Sleeping Beauty (American). I’m further ashamed to say I hadn’t really seen any Japanese movies nor any sort of anime so it’s safe to say that the viewing of Godzilla was an interesting, semi humorous, eye-opening experience. I loved it!
The experience of viewing a movie that was so different than to those I regularly choose to watch was fantastic because although I’m no stranger to black and white films, I was a stranger to the style of effects used and the general way the movie was shot and edited. I did learn that with this style of movie comes a responsibility to look at it with perspective and understanding of context, particularly because of the position Japan was in around 1954. You could almost look at it as a type of release for the Japanese people as a general understanding of Japanese history would show that nuclear bombs were dropped on 2 Japanese cities during World War 2, represented by the giant lizard himself Godzilla. With this knowledge it’s not hardto see why this movie made an influence both socially and politically.
“…if we continue conducting nuclear tests, it’s possible that another Godzilla might appear somewhere in the world again.”
Kyohei Yamane-hakase, Gojira, 1954.
With my limited knowledge of 50’s movies, as previously mentioned Rebel Without a Cause and Sleeping Beauty, I was able to pick up similarities between characteristics of the female characters. The female lead, Emiko, fit comfortably into the image of a ‘housewife’ and certainly in need of saving, this can easily be related back to Aurora from Sleeping Beauty and her ‘damsel in distress’ style.
I have watched subtitled movies before but in the past they have been calm movies with slow storylines so reading and watching never proved to be too much of an issue however I found it slightly difficult with Godzilla to read what was happening and further watch the scene unfolding. Despite this, subtitled movies have always been so interesting to me in the sense that I feel as if I’m stepping into another world and being able to glimpse into the Japanese world in this case.
On a side note: After researching this subject, I came to find that the man who played Godzilla originally in the film died on Tuesday 8th at age 88. Rest in peace Haruo Nakajima!