Directed by Ishirô Honda [Other horror films: Gojira no gyakushû (1955), Jû jin yuki otoko (1955), Godzilla: King of the Monsters! (1956), Sora no daikaijû Radon (1956), Godzilla (1957), Tokyo 1960 (1957), Bijo to ekitai ningen (1958), Daikaijû Baran (1958), Half Human: The Story of the Abominable Snowman (1958), Gigantis: The Fire Monster (1959), Mosura (1961), Varan the Unbelievable (1962), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963), Matango (1963), Mosura tai Gojira (1964), Uchû daikaijû Dogora (1964), War-Gods of the Deep (1965), Furankenshutain tai chitei kaijû Baragon (1965), Furankenshutain no kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira (1966), Gezora, Ganime, Kameba: Kessen! Nankai no daikaijû (1970), Gojira tai Hedora (1971), Godzilla (1977), Godzilla 1985 (1985), Gojira vs. Desutoroiâ (1995), Gojira tai Megagirasu: Jî shômetsu sakusen (2000)]
Very much a political statement against nuclear weaponry (a statement I entirely agree with), this is a classic movie that I’ve seen bits and pieces of before, but never the whole thing at once. To the modern eye, Gojiria may not seem that special, but it’s still a decent amount of fun and overall a well-made monster movie.
You can definitely get an epic scope from the destruction that Godzilla causes during his rampages. How many people were dislocated, how much property damage, how many killed? These questions apply both to the lizard monster, and also to the U.S.A.’s dropping of nuclear bombs on two Japanese cities. It’s utter destruction, and the only viable solution is an idea that a scientist doesn’t want to share, for the sole reason that he knows it’ll be weaponized in the future.
Godzilla has a lot to say about the state of war, and I think it says it well. I found the distinction between approaches interesting (Takashi Shumura’s desire to study the creature vs. Akira Takarada’s agreement with the military to destroy it), and I see the validity behind both points (in a way, it reminds me of Day of the Dead). Takashi Shumura made for a very compelling character, and when he threw Akira Takarada’s character out (in front of Shumura’s daughter, who Takarada was hoping to marry), talk about dramatic.
I think the most interesting character here, though, is Akihiko Hirata’s, the scientist with an idea to destroy the threat of Godzilla, but the unwillingness to share with the military (for good reason). The very moral arguments that he had with himself would have been difficult, as again, you can sort of see both sides of the argument. When this opportunity is made clear to Momoko Kôchi’s character on the promise of silence, she eventually breaks her word to let Takarada know, and that leads to perhaps my favorite scene in the film.
Much more than just a giant monster causing untold death and dismay, Godzilla is a moderately deep and pretty moving story. I can’t personally say it’s one that I’d watch again and again, but I thought they did really well with the issues at hand, and I’m happy that I’ve finally seen this, despite taking me this long to get here.