Godzilla To Return To Movie Theaters

| January 21, 2015

When you mention the name Godzilla, most people know something about the original movie and those that followed. There are however, many facts about the Godzilla cinematic experience that many people don’t know. The original Godzilla film, called Gojira, was made in 1954 and was directed by film legend Ishiro Honda, who was influenced by the dropping of nuclear bombs on Japan during World War II. However, the version seen in the United States, a mere two years later, had been heavily altered in order to better appeal to American audiences.

The Godzilla movies are considered part of the kaiju collection – “kaiju” (in English, “strange creature”) being a Japanese film genre that includes some sort of monster as part of the film. Some of the creatures depicted in a kaiju films are shown as being motivated by a great evil, while other creatures are shown as great warriors working with villains. They are all eventually destroyed by the forces of good. These films have featured creatures such as Gamera, Mothra, Rodan and more.

Many of the kaiju movies were created to serve as metaphors for the nuclear horror experienced by Japan during World War II. The original Godzilla provided powerful images of Tokyo being on fire, eerily reminiscent of the real-life destroyed urban landscape of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Scenes also showed shelters filled with orphaned children, chaotic hospitals, and burn victims. Director Ishiro Honda has said he used the characteristics of an atomic bomb and put them directly into his Godzilla, such as the monster’s radioactive breath and scaley, burned skin. August 2015 will mark 70 years since nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and many people still attest that Gojira remains one of the most powerful cinematic metaphors that illustrate the horror experience by the Japanese people.

Gojira was later released in the United States, this time as Godzilla, King of the Monsters! in 1956. The new version contained footage not included within the original, such as  Raymond Burr acting as an American reporter who was working in Tokyo as Godzilla attacked. The changes resulted in a whopping 40 minutes of film being taken out and an additional 20 minutes of English-geared film being added. A key scene in the 1954 version had journalists watching Godzilla approaching as they stood on the Tokyo Tower. The journalists continue to broadcast until they are all eventually killed – just one of the powerful scenes removed from the version seen by American movie audiences.

Godzilla is a unique Japanese creation. However, since the original, there have been over 30 movies released containing this iconic figure, most of which forgo the nuclear intentions of the first film in favor of comedic interpretations or Hollywood CGI effects (not that these aren’t appreciated by their own niche audiences, channels such as El Rey still marathon the films, while Direct TV and Amazon both offer most on demand). The Japanese film production company Toho, creators of Gojira, is scheduled to begin production on the next installment of the Godzilla franchise during the summer of 2015. The movie is anticipated to be released in theaters sometime during 2016.

Making another Godzilla movie was likely partially motivated by the success of Garth Edward’s Godzilla, released in 2014, which earned over $500 million in worldwide sales. However, the goal of the newest addition is also to make certain it is not treated like just another Hollywood movie, and that its message of nuclear devastation will be present. Representatives from Toho and producer Taichi Ueda have expressed their desire to depict Godzilla as a character that will positively represent Japan and gain admiration from movie watchers around the world once again.

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