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Godzilla (Gojira, 1954)

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    Vili Maunula

    So, I watched the original Godzilla after Jeremy told me to. I have decided to post my reflections here, rather than go further off-topic in the High Definition thread where the topic originally came up.

    All in all, I must say that I was positively surprised by the film, having previously seen many of what I think were the 60s and 70s Godzilla films. I don’t think I had seen this one before, or at least I didn’t remember a thing. In any case, apart from the quarter of an hour destruction sequence in the middle, which I found quite repetitive and uninteresting after the first couple of buildings, the film pretty much kept my attention throughout.

    The story of course had most of the clichés of disaster movies, yet it was a big surprise how fresh many of these moments felt. Having, for example, less than eagerly anticipated the self-sacrificing end of our good eye-patched scientist, when the moment actually came to say goodbye, I didn’t go “blah”, but rather “well done”. In fact, the whole undersea sequence leading up to his death was, I thought, extremely well handled.

    On the technical side, I thought that some of Honda’s camera use and editing was nothing short of being inspired, and that certainly helped in many of the parts dealing with the clichés. Anyone planning to do a monster film could do well to study those scenes.

    Acting was also surprisingly good, not only with Shimura but with most of the main cast. I must also say that I absolutely fell in love with Momoko Koochi, who plays the daughter. Oh, that smile of hers!

    As for the metaphor… Well, let’s just say that with the good pacing that the film had I didn’t feel like I was being force-fed a statement. The issue at hand could perhaps have been made somewhat more complex, but I don’t think that I would fault Godzilla for not doing that.

    All in all, it was definitely worth watching.

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    Lewis Saul

    And can it really be just a “coincidence” that as soon as he finally finished SS, he went right to work on a new film which is very similar in plot to his old pal Honda’s!!!

    My Japanese correspondents (and my reading) inform me that this time period — right after the U.S. Bikini atoll nuclear tests — was, in fact, a really tense and stressful time for most Japanese.

    Naturally, I prefer “I Live In Fear” to “Gojira” as far as pure filmmaking goes — but “Gojira” — unlike any of its gadzillion sequels — was actually a film about something — a pressing social matter…

    LS

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    Jeremy

    Glad, you were pleased. Certainly not the greatest film, but I think its overlooked, and if you place your self in the Japanese time period the film can be quite effective.

    Your review Vili, its exactly my thoughts too.

    “I live in fear” is a better movie but I think the idea of using a monster to represent bombs/radiation, whatever is clever and gives a message like “I live in fear” without it being entirely obvious.(not that I think “I live in fear” is preachy”- I do really like that movie)

    Are they really cliches? Where other monster movies doing the same thing? I really dont know, 1954 is right in the mist of the American monster movies- I wonder who copied who.

    I have seen very few monster movies,so I really have no idea.

    Oh yeah, its hard not to fall in love with Momoko Kochi

    Momoko

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    Vili Maunula

    Are they really cliches? Where other monster movies doing the same thing? I really dont know, 1954 is right in the mist of the American monster movies- I wonder who copied who.

    I have two answers to this, depending on which mood I am in. As it’s early in the morning, I let you choose.

    1) I have seen enough monster movies from the 20s, 30s and 40s to be fairly confident in saying that yes, the clichés were already there. I am not an expert in the monster genre, but that is my observation.

    2) It doesn’t in the end really matter who copied who, or whether the clichés existed by the time the movie was made. I watched the movie yesterday, and based on my earlier experience as a movie watcher (and a general observer) those certainly were clichés to me. Questions such as whether those were clichés at the time of the making of the movie, or what the intention of the film maker was, are fairly irrelevant.

    Choosing number 1 or number 2 as the answer would depend on whether I want to wear my “student of art” or “student of art history” hat today. I also have other hats, of course, like any good post-modernist does (even hats that totally contradict the post-modernist agenda).

    But what I am ultimately saying, of course, is that “I was right”. 😛

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    Jeremy

    Alright, they were cliches.

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