Sunday Night Movie: Gojira

gojira_cover For those who are horribly Americanized, the film I watched Sunday Night was the original 1954 Godzilla movie. In Japan the films was titled Gojira, but a new name was selected when the film was re-edited and brought to the United States.

When the film came to America it was decided by the distribution company that the best chance for a wider audience and more money was to add an American character to the film. Scenes were trimmed or outright deleted in order to make room for the story of US Reporter Steve Martin and his coverage of the fantastic monster rising from the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

If you have not seen the original film you really should. It is a much more complex and thoughtful piece than the American edit and far more than the daikaiju that followed in Gojira’s massive wake.

I picked up a copy of the original film on blu-ray and the quality is generally good. The film has some scratches and imperfections, the kind you typically see in an older film without the benefits of extensive restoration. It is also true that many of the shots in the film were never pristine. The quality of the film stock and the equipment in Japan at the time severely limited their capability in special effects. What they did achieve in this film, with a limited budget and very limited time is astounding.

In this version of the film there is a much more direct metaphor made between Gojira and nuclear weapons and war in general. The devastation brought by the atomic bombs is directly mentioned, something omitted from the American release.

Also in this version there is stronger character story and few things are resolved without pain and confusion on the the part of the characters.

If you have never seen this film — and seeing the 1956 American release does NOT count — you should.