My First Godzilla Experience

gojira

Gojira (1954). Photo credit: The Focus Pull

I think this was the first black and white film, and first subtitled film I have ever watched from start to finish. Being a 21-year-old Australian, I tend to only watch films and television shows that originate in the US and Australia; sometimes ones from the UK sneak their way into the mix. Being exposed to a film that is as culturally diverse as Gojira, and as far from my comfort zone as can be, really opened my eyes.

While watching the film, I tweeted “what a cinematic masterpiece”… I’m not going to lie when I say I was being a little sarcastic at first but as the film went on and we were exposed to the film maker’s use of model work and post-film productions, such as the siren that alerted the city of Godzilla’s appearance, I really did start to believe that the film was kind of a cinematic masterpiece. Scenes like Godzilla destroying the obviously teeny-tiny train made me chuckle but still had me intrigued with the methods film makers had to use in times where technology was limited. Audiences from this time period probably found Gojira extremely dramatic, where a lot of us watching it in the tutorial found it quite funny.

I thought I was going to struggle to pay attention throughout the film as it was subtitled and I have a very short attention span – I think I have YouTube videos to thank for that now. I still remember sitting in my Year 9 Japanese class and not having any interest in the Japanese soap opera we occasionally watched. This, in turn, had me thinking that I wouldn’t have any interest in keeping up with what was happening and being said throughout Gojira but I found that even if I looked away from the screen for a period of time, I was still able to keep up. Most of this was due to the emotive acting and the loud sounds and near silence used throughout. I’m still quite amazed at how captivating the scenes that were entirely silent were. The overly staged and highly dramatic acting contributed to the viewing experience as it meant that I didn’t always have to rely on the English subtitles to understand what was happening in the scenes.

As someone who was never seen anything Godzilla related, I was completely ignorant Gojira‘s significant representations of historical and socio-political events. After the post film discussion in the tutorial and reading through both classes live tweets, it became blindingly obvious what Gojira, as a film and figure, stood for and represented at a time where Japan was struggling with who they were as a nation.

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5 comments

  1. Hi Jess! I’m glad that I’m not the only one who had a chuckle at the film. You made at great point at drawing on the fact that this film was probably fascinating to viewers at the time that it was produced. It just goes to show how much cinematography has advanced these days.

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  2. hey, I think it’s really important to highlight the fact that even due to how out of date and culturally different the film was compared to what you’re used to; you were still able to watch and understand.

    I suffer from a short attention span too, but find that subtitles can kind of force you to pay attention so that you don’t miss any key dialogue that’s relevant to the plot. So in a similar fashion I completely agree that through the dramatised acting and emotion shown by the actors- it was an easy film to keep up with and pay attention to.

    A lot of it was really cringe-worthy in terms of the filmography and sometime the acting was definitely a bit too much but what drives this movie into importance and relevancy is the idea that you can really understand the struggles Japan was going through at that time and what it meant to the people themselves.

    I’m glad that we are able to study this film and gain a closer look into the Japanese culture!

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  3. With so much access to everything modern these days it’s definitely less appealing to indulge in styles your not used to, but it’s awesome to dip your toes into many different styles. For this particular subject trying anime’s is a good start (try Death Note or Castlevania) but then you can try modern foreign films like Les Intouchables or silent films like Nosferatu or Metropolis. Every film you watch gives you a taste of another culture and could very well lead to a whole new sub genre you love which could lead to an exciting new culture you love and so on and so on.

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  4. It’s great how everyone seems to be loving the film, especially after being skeptical at first or previously not liking black and white films. I was pretty ignorant about the post war concept of the film at the beginning also but it shifted my whole perspective of the film when I figured it out.

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