My favorite movie of all time. I was thrilled to find it on television in the pre-video/DVD era. Godzilla was the first videotape I ever bought. I was ecstatic to find the original unimproved Gojira after years of hoping to get my claws on such a thing.
One can imagine that Gojira is at least inspired by Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. It’s a far better film, however. Even glimpsing the original material between the curious Raymond Burr US footage, one can get a sense of what the original must be like. The scene on Odo Island, the ritual with the bizarre masks, was incredible to me as a child. This wasn’t the usual crap — what’s up with this? A few elements of Japan were clear. Which has led to a lifelong interest in Japanese and Chinese culture and art.
The true joy in this film is seeing the military squashed flat. Like bugs. It never gets old. Here comes Godzilla, roused from his slumber by nuclear explosions, and boy, is he pissed. It’s never suggested what Godzilla might be doing stomping Tokyo flat.
The triangle between Emiko Yemane (daughter of Japan’s famous palentologist) and Ogata, and Dr. Serizawa is well-handled and key to the human side of the film working. Dr. Serizawa is wonderfully deranged with his eyepatch and his laboratory full of aquariums and strange electrodes.
The curiosity that is the US version of Gojira, Godzilla, is a wonder in and of itself. Who would have dreamt this up? Filming additional scenes and somehow superimposing a Western subplot on the film? Bizarre but wonderful. Even as a kid it was clear what had been done. A weird film in that regard.
I love this film. It never gets old. I’ve long since lost count of how many times I’ve watched and enjoyed it. A true treasure.
Dr. Serizawa has not yet begun his ascent.