Godzilla (1954) Gojira
Directed by Ishir Honda
Starring Takashi Shimura (Ikiru, Seven Samurai), Momoko Kchi, Akira Takarada
Restored and uncut, this is the one true Godzilla film that was bastardised for release in the US with clips of Raymond Burr interspersed throughout the film and renamed Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
Ships start disappearing off the coast of Japan, other ships investigate and they also vanish. On Odu Island, rumours spread about the return of a legendary monster, Godzilla. The natives tell of how they used to send a female sacrifice out to sea in order to appease him, of course none of the investigators believe these rumours until they themselves are faced by the beast.
After attempting and failing to destroy the monster, Godzilla heads towards Tokyo leaving a swathe of destruction in its path.
As well as the main story, there is also a minor underplayed love triangle involving three of the central characters, this is resolved with the death of one of the protagonists towards the end of the film.
This film is more than just a rampaging monster movie, more than a Japanese King Kong; its a warning to the World against the nuclear bomb tests taking place during that period especially in the Pacific.
You only have to see the results of Godzillas attacks, a blinding flash, virtual disintegration and furious fires, the same as the effects of the bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Godzilla himself is radioactive as a result of the tests; he spits out a deadly atomic mist that destroys everything in his path. Godzilla is allegorical of the threat of nuclear war and this gives the film a sense of melancholy albeit with some ironic humour, the broadcaster on the Tokyo tower telling the audience he has no chance of escaping before signing off with a somewhat cheery Sayonara!
The effects range from pretty amateur to absolutely stunning, the first sighting of the monster on Odu Island is laughably bad but during the destruction of Tokyo, the effects are incredible. As for the sound, well that truly is something else, awesome enough to send chills down your spine, it also shows where Mr Spielberg got some of his aural ideas for Jurassic Park.
So is it worth seeing? Damn right it is, this doesnt have the cheese factor of its sequels, this film carries a serious message and for its time, it was excellent. A hearty recommendation, especially if you can catch it in the cinema.
BBFC rated PG.
To be released on R2 Pal dvd by the BFI.