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.