Gojira is a Japanese science fiction movie produced and released by Toho in 1954. Gojira is probably best known to the world by its English title, Godzilla. Just hearing the word “Godzilla” invokes a wide array of emotions amongst the population. Some don’t care, some get excited and others groan. Godzilla has become synonymous with cheesy plots, bad dubbing and giant monsters destroying Tokyo. What many people fail to realize is that those wonderfully cheesy 27 sequels (yep, 27 sequels have been made to date) all came from this brilliant original.
Gojira came out in 1954, just 9 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While this movie was made to entertain, it also had an underlying message: atomic warfare is no friggin’ joke. The plot, for those who are unaware, is about a giant lizard like monster that has been mutated from the radiation caused by one of the bombs. Pissed off and hungry, Gojira stomps and melts his way through a town causing widespread panic and devastation. There is no other monster is this film to stop Gojira, either. It’s man vs. giant monster. While the idea of a giant monster running rampant sounds silly, this movie is very serious. There is no comic relief. There is just action, carnage and terror.
The pacing of this movie is brilliant. It starts with a bang and doesn’t stop. You get healthy doses of Gojira-less story, followed by a nice reminder of why the people are so freaked out. I had only seen the heavily edited American version with Raymond Burr from 1956 before, so it was nice seeing the darker original. With most 1950’s sci-fi flicks, you tend to expect a healthy amount of cheese with the special effects and acting, but you won’t get that with Gojira. Yes, the effects are dated, but it looked very impressive for the time it was released.
Gojira doesn’t deserve the stigma that the sequels have caused. While most of the movies in the franchise are just eye candy for those that like watching giant monsters fight, this is a legitimately good movie that deserves to be in any discussion about great sci-fi films. After seeing the original, it will definitely be brought up whenever I discuss my all-time favorite movies. If you haven’t seen the original Japanese version of Gojira, I highly recommend it.
Keep it creepy,