BCM320 – Gojira (1954) – Response

Our first week back for the semester and a classic pop culture phenomenon to get us started! I have no personal experience with the Gojira (or Godzilla) franchise. I’d not seen any of the films, any adaptations or representations, however the icon and the story was well known to me. The power of pop culture!

Gojira (1954) directed by Ishirō Honda is a science fiction cult classic from Japan. The original version in all its black and white, subtitled version! Live tweeting is always a struggle with films you haven’t seen before as you are often trying to grasp the main elements of what you are watching whilst also being involved in the online discussion! I always prefer a subtitled version of a foreign show or film however, even if some things can be lost in the translation. I believe it seems more natural and more authentic as a viewer to hear the film as it was made. Personally, I think it allows a deeper experience of what you are watching and it forces a concentration that isn’t there with english dubbing.

The film itself, coming from a film student’s perspective, I’m sure was an amazing feat for its time. Although the special effects seem almost comical to us now, they did a tremendous job in Gojira. I noted that often the best monsters are the ones that aren’t seen. You’re own imagination is a powerful tool in fear, and the way they never showed Gojira for most of the film is a testament to this. I think we have become used to knowing who the villain is straight away in current times, so I personally found this approach refreshing.

What I wasn’t expecting from the film, was its allegory towards nuclear weapons, and in general, the misuse of mass destruction weapons. My own knowledge of Japanese history is rather limited, but the nuclear terror that was brought upon the country is something known to all. To see them address this and how it affected the population and their opinions towards weapons of this scale was intense. I was certainly not expecting it amongst what I thought was simply a ‘hero vs monster’ story.

I would be interested in how further adaptations of the franchise addressed what I think the main message of the film was. Wrapped up amongst a fearful story of a giant monster terrorising a people, is a cautionary tale come too late and now only serves as a symbolic reminder.

3 thoughts on “BCM320 – Gojira (1954) – Response

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  1. Hey! I’ll have to agree with your explanation of 1954’s Gojira. Ishirō Honda was definitely ahead if his time, and has created such a timely classic; which symbolises times of warfare and struggle in Japan. Gojira will continue to influence modern adaptations and inspire others to remember and embrace their own cultural identity. I would have liked to see a more personal response in your blog, maybe including anecdotes from your own life with reference to your own culture. This would have made reading your post more relatable for the reader, otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed your post and great job! 🙂

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  2. Hey Eliza,

    We share something in common, I had never seen any of the film franchise either but was also familiar with it. The Power of Pop culture or constant annoyance from people begging you to watch it? I feel it the Latter.

    I Totally agree with your point about the Authentic, natural consistency viewing the film in it’s original language instead of dubbing. I’d like to also add to that, as in the loss of translation through spoken language, I feel makes you appreciate the unspoken language of the film more, and more specifically the music as it effectively translates to you what you cannot understand through the words. it is so true about “the best monsters are the ones that aren’t seen” it is so much stronger to have the implication of a monster as it breeds doubt fear and anticipation, all you need to capture the audience and keep them on the edge of their seats. The film industry nowadays are so hung up on creating these big elaborate monsters to show off their CGI skills but forget that it’s what isn’t in the frame/ what you cannot see that create the most fear. It tells the audience it’s to terrifying and their imagination fills in the rest. a Great depiction of a recent movie that do this is 2008 ‘Cloverfield’ directed by Matt Reeves.

    It’s crazy to think what they were able to get away with during this period of time too, being so close to their tragic loss. Their symbolic representation through the film about the devastation left through the nuclear bombs they faced, it was amazing to see how much they were able to symbolise and how easily (even through the lack of spoken communication of the language barrier) the audience of all countries could pick up on it.

    Thanks, Blake

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