First, it is great pleasure I review this film, I thoroughly enjoy creature features and cryptozoology movies, but also one that incorporates part of real-life history into the backstory of the movie, and herein that World War II and the dreadful creation of the atomic bomb. I’ve mentioned before in other reviews the importance of films from 1953 their impact for both science fiction and horror crossover flicks, it truly started with the box-office smash hit of Eugene Lourie’s The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and how the atomic bomb spread fear, panic, suffering, and a combination oversize creatures Them (1954) and awakening of long dormant prehistoric monsters. All of this factors into producer Tomoyuki Tanaka’s mindset after his latest picture fell apart before pre-production, and having a hole in Toho Studio’s winter release schedule he saw both the American monster film 20,000 Fathoms (for short) and then American monster picture King Kong (1933) enjoyed an international re-release the previous year, realizing that monster movies were popular once more (recycling often occurs in the horror genre);Tanaka thought about creating something in the vein. Hence the creation of a giant monster, awakened by the actual American nuclear tests occurring in the Pacific Ocean and then proceeds to devastated Tokyo. The owners of the studio loved the concept and green-light it, first Shigeru Kayama (Godzilla Raids Again ) worked out the story idea and then Takeo Murata (Rodan ) finished the script in a month, while hiring director Ishiro Honda (Matango ) asked special effects director, Eiji Tsuburaya, to build them a monster. One of the key aspects of this monster, the look needed to be impressive and clearly recognizable, therefore choose to have a Tyrannosaurus Rex meets Stegosaurus, namely its plates protruding from its back, and able to have fire like a dragon and able to destroy large buildings, structures and military forces. It all gave birth to Gojira (original title) and still its representing the incredible magnitude that this monster has with the cinematic world so much that it earned a Hollywood star in 2004 to mark his 50th birthday. In fact, now in 2019 embarking of 65-years of reigning supreme As many know the story of Godzilla, but perhaps not the full original movie this review shall try to avoid some the lesser known aspects of the plot.
It is 1954, and the Southern Sea Steamship Company freighter vanishes amidst a flaming ocean and frantic radio transmissions this results in Hideto Ogata (Akira Takarada) at the main offices to cancel with his friend Emiko Yamane (Momoko Kôchi) resulting in another ship sent to the coordinates of previous vessel and once more catastrophe occurs, sending love-ones to the corporate office in desperate need of information. Meanwhile on Odo Island, an older resident knows of a legend concerning a sea monster which when awoken is very angry, since the fishing nets empty it points in this direction; however the youth dismisses the elder as foolish, yet entertain an anti-creature exorcism of sorts. The movie adds much atmospheric content with typhoons, howling winds, lightning, and roaring sounds, all signaling impending doom. A well-respected expert paleontologist Professor Kyohei Yamane (Takashi Shimura), seizes the initiative by calling for a full-on fact-finding mission, his daughter Emiko accompanies him to the Odo Island, now devastated. The professor theorizes that an amphibious dinosaur lived perhaps trapped in an underworld in the oceanic trenches and the experimental nuclear dentations altered its world. This theory causes enormous debate not just about Godzilla, in the film, but also whether to inform the public. Director Honda used his past war-time experiences into the film, from realism of death and destruction to connection of atomic warfare on both society and nature, showing the mass death toll, endless screen and orphaned children. A key phrase one must listen for “to the shelters again” this can send an eerie chill, as during the war bombing raids occurred, obliterating city blocks, and that was before the two mega atomic bombs. The sheer wasteland shown in the movie, had actually greatly affected some of the viewers in Japan, for obvious reasons. Of course, Godzilla comes to Tokyo, at night, everyone knows of this and what shall occur, the military sets its defense and counterattacks the beast, with an electric fence a valiant effort it meets with sad results, burning national landmarks lay in waste. This enters into the fray another scientist Dr. Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata), who’s a chemist appearing very evil and who at first refused to engage as he sees all as retribution for the superpowers playing in God’s world of extinction, but eventually aids, after witnessing all the death around him by suggesting a chemical agent to the water to kill Godzilla. This overall movie is more than a creature feature meets a monster movie, it contains another far more sinister set of monsters, humans, namely the scientist who keeps inventing more deadlier chemicals and weapons for mass death, and the grim horrific aspect of war itself.
While one might point the dated toy tanks, planes and trains, those scenes quite brief, the main star is Godzilla which came from the capable hands and mind of Eiji Tsuburaya (Varan the Unbelievable ), who made many other monsters including Rodan, the movie which followed this flick and established the lengthy list of sequels. The actual movement of the monster came from a rubberized suit worn by stuntman Haruo Nakajima, who would portray Godzilla in a dozen more movies. In the end Godzilla became Japan’s first piece of pop-culture to earn outstanding commercial and global success. As mentioned before, the film contains references to historic facts aside from the mention of two major events the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. First, by incorporating Operation Meetinghouse which occurred on March 10, 1945 over three hundred B-29s that carpet-bomb 16-miles, killing over 100,000 people with incendiary bombs, hence that was used for Godzilla’s initial attack on Tokyo and the second actual refers back to the opening of the movie. On March 1, 1954, fallout from United States nuclear test on Bikini Atoll rained down on the 140-ton tuna boat contaminating its twenty-three man crew.
For some of us creature feature and movie monster lovers, Godzilla remains king of the monsters, and to others it’s no big deal, what else do you have well perhaps It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) , in any regard the age of atomic warfare and radiation gave and continues to offer great debates, arguments and of beasts galore to enjoy as we munch on popcorn to enjoy stomping madness on the screens.
- The legend begins….
- The original, uncut Japanese version–never before released in the US! (2004 Rialto USA release)
- AWESOME!–and then some!
- It’s Alive!
- spewing flames that scorch the earth!
- Incredible, unstoppable titan of terror!
- Mightiest monster! Mightiest melodrama of them all!
- Civilization crumbles as its death rays blast a city of 6 million from the face of the earth!
- A monster of mass destruction!
IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
Baron’s Rating: 8.0/10
Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965)
Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966)
Son of Godzilla (1967)
Destroy All Monsters (1968)
All Monsters Attack (1969)
Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)
Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
Godzilla 1985 (1985)
Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
Godzilla 2000 (1999)
Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)
Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002)
Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)
Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
Shin Godzilla (2016)
Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1998) (TV Movie)
Varan the Unbelievable (1962)
Godzilla (1978) (TV Series)