Witness the beginning of a Legend.
Gojira is an extremely solemn, heavy-hearted film. For starting the longest-lived movie franchise of all time and giving birth to a legendary character, it’s nothing like any of its successors.
To start, I don’t feel like calling it a monster movie is fair at all. It may feature a monster, but it’s much more a anti-war drama that anything else. Upon a recent reviewing, I realized how somber- and almost depressed, really- this film feels. I think it works much better in black-and-white that it ever would have in color. Something I noticed while rewatching this movie was that minor sound effects, like opening and closing doors, are left out. I don’t know if this is intentional or not, but it only adds to the grim atmosphere. The hospital scene is the first time I felt real heartache from a film in a long time. When that little girl screams from her mothers? It’s like a punch to the gut.
I also enjoy that it acts as a cautionary tale as well. Instead of having a happy, rainbows-and-kittens ending, the climax is tragic and uneasy. Godzilla may have been a devastating force of destruction and death, but something even worse was needed to stop him- the Oxygen Destroyer. This device isn’t treated like a triumph of Man’s intellect and innovation, but a potential apocalypse. To defeat Godzilla, an even bigger monster was created. Although Serizawa prevented his creation from being used in the wrong ways with his own death, it’s still a powerful message.
As for the more technical aspects, this movie holds up well there too. The effects have aged relatively well. Godzilla himself looks very good. He’s huge, imposing, and inexpressive. That last one may be taken as a negative, but I think it really drives home that he’s not a normal creature, that he’s war in a living form. War is cold, uncaring, and doesn’t pick its victims based on any reasonable standards. This film’s Godzilla is no different. The illusion of his vast size is particularly well done. Those low angles he’s filmed from work wonders. One of my favorites scenes is when Godzilla levels the electrical barrier. Those wax towers being melted looks excellent on films, and his mass and imperviousness are really shown off.
Overall, I’d say it’s safe to call Gojira a great movie, a masterpiece even. It’s a must-see for any fan, and well worth the time of any film critic who turns up his nose at the mention of the name ‘Godzilla’. But it’s not a movie to watch as any time either. I’d only suggest it when you feel ready for something serious and hard-hitting.”
The original Japanese Godzilla (or Gojira) is a masterpiece. It’s one of the most important, underrated films of all time. It has a very strong anti-war and anti-nuclear theme and in case you don’t care for that there’s a giant atomic dinosaur destroying building and causing general havoc. But if you want to dig a little deeper there’s great human drama going on. A love triangle, whether to study or destroy Godzilla and so on. The American version starring Raymond Burr is good but the Japanese version that truly started it all is so much more. – T. Beasley