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Gojira

Godzilla - King of the Monsters
Godzilla / Godzilla - König der Monster

Japan 1954
produced by
Tomoyuki Tanaka for Toho
directed by Inoshiro Honda, unnecessary American scenes by Terry O.Morse
starring Akira Takarada, Akihiko Hirata, Momoko Kochi, Takashi Shimura, Fujuki Murakami, Sachio Sakai, Raymond Burr (unnecessary American scenes only)
screenplay by Takeo Murata, Inoshiro Honda, based on a story by Shigeru Kayama, special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, music by Akira Ifukube

Godzilla

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A series of sinking ships leaves the coast guard baffled, & though the natives of the nearby island Oda soon come up with an explanation of their own based on fishermen's superstition - it's the angry sea-god Godzilla - the authorities of course put little belief in it at first. But when soon afterwards large parts of the island are thrashed & the whole surroundings show exposure to heavy radiation, that puts a new perspective to their invetigations ... especially when a giant dinosaur-like beast is also found on Oda. 

& while government officials are eager to destroy the beast, only professor Yamane (Takashi Shimura) wants to keep it alive to study it. 

But then the beast leaves Oda & approaches mainland Japan. & as the monster lays more & more waste to the Japanese countryside, the army has to realize it simply has no weapon powerful enough to stop the creature. The only man who seems to have one is scientist Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata), who has invented the all powerful oxygen destroyer, but he - very well aware that this weapon in the wrong hands would mean a much greater threat to mankind than even Godzilla - is reluctant to share his knowledge with anyone. The only person he trusts enough to show her his invention is Emiko (Momoko Kochi), Yamane's daughter & his girlfriend - well, more or less since she is secretly in love with coast guard officer Ogata (Akira Takarada) -, but Emiko has to swear absoulte secrecy. ... only when Godzilla lays waste to considerable parts of Tokyo, she is no longer able to remain silent & spills the beans to Ogata, & the two of them take some considerable time to convince Serizawa to help them fight Godzilla. 

In the end both Serizawa & Ogata go deep-sea diving after Godzilla to successfully use the oxygen destroyer, an action that Serizawa also wouldn't survive, since he commits suicide to make sure that the secrets of the oxygen destroyer would die with him ...

 

Today, Godzilla is mainly known from the colourful, good-natured orgies of destruction Toho produced from the 60's on (not that there would be anything wrong with them) during which series Godzilla would eventually even become the good guy, or even form the ill-conceived American CGI-movie from the late 90's (now there was everything wrong with that one). 1954's original Godzilla however was a much more sombre movie, that was way more thoughtful & serious than its (mainly American) contemporary competition, since it was the only movie back then to pose the question of the dangers of a weapon powerful enough to destroy this most powerful being - & can thus not only be seen as an allegory on the atom bomb (as which the monster/the movie is often interpreted) but also on the then contemporary arms race between East & West (as opposecd to the American monster movies, in which the monster is mainly a metaphor for communism).

In all, Godzilla is without a doubt one of the best & most thought through monster-movies of the 50's, even despite some short-comings in the special effects department (the monster is, which is sometimes all to visible, just a man in a rubber suit). That Godzilla was later turned into a series of sometimes quite funny, sometimes godawful dinosaur-mayhem movies just can't be blamed on this film.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

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