Monday, June 30, 2014

Gojira Godzilla 1954
I know it is early in the Summer and the Summer blockbusters seem to be lacking this year. As a result I have been looking back at some of the old blockbusters of the past.  While I don't think the movie for this review was released in the summer, or even if it was a blockbuster at the time, it certainly was the precursor to at least 2 blockbusters based off of the original movie, Gojira/Godzilla. This summer season, so far, the best movie I have seen is not the remake of Godzilla but the original, remastered, uncut, version released in 1954. The film making its rounds this year in various theaters courtesy of Rialto Pictures on the giant screen in an uncut version which is not, repeat, is not even close to the version shown in most American theaters over the years. This version is in fact, SUPERIOR and additional sights to see it on the big screen can be seen at their web site;

In Wichita Kansas we are blessed in many ways, one is the presence of a dear friend Leif Jonker. Leif, well known for his own release of Leif Jonker's Darkness, considered by many as one of the best gore horror movies ever made, it is a gem, Leif is a real life diamond in the ruff kind of gem. He cares about movies and as a result brings some classics to some wonderful Wichita theaters. One such upcoming example will be Sorcerer, the 1977 William Friedkin classic starring Roy Scheider. One of the earlier Summer wares that Leif blessed our community with was the original Gojira/Godzilla. It played to sold out audiences and I have to admit, I had never seen the film in its original version, only the television dubbed versions. My friend Steve and I went to the movie at one of our classic theaters and sat next to Leif at this sold out show which had been moved to a larger theater to accommodate the crowds. Man oh man was I in for an incredible pleasurable moment watching this movie in the way it was meant to be watched, on the big screen, subtitled from the original Japanese which added a great deal to the dubbed and earlier edited versions.

www.thekeystonekid.orgOne of the first things to take notice of is the date of this film 1954. The Japanese were fresh off the heals of World War 2 and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Imagine, going through the horrors of that war and those bombings only to a few years later make a movie that deals with nuclear weapons and the effects of the bombings on the land and water. Out of this came a virtually indestructible monster to terrorize the people and landscape of those who had just gone through these horrors. In the original Gojira/Godzilla the emotions, feelings and horror of the situations comes across the screen through the actors and story. I couldn't help but think of the Japanese people, going back in time and in history thinking of their lives during the making of this movie, for many, even going through the difficulties of the war and bombings. 

I have to admit, the special effects don't come close to holding up to today's standards, but in an innocent kind of way, the effects add to the concept of the story. While they don't hold up, it takes the viewer back to the time frame of when the film was made, it also helps us draw on the emotions and story. It did so enough that the audience attending the showings was applauding at the conclusion of the film due to the magic they had just witnessed. Now let me make it clear, this audience while consisting of many art film fans, was far from just this type of audience. Many were fans who came just wanting to see a version of Godzilla, the typical movie fan, who in the end, were also applauding.

www.mosaicwichita.comSome see films of this nature and wonder; are there any benefits or things we can learn today? It is likely that if they give it a chance they will see one of the best examples of how we can learn from films like this. Through the power of the acting you can see the lasting impact on the destruction we often do to each other, despite what one may deem as appropriate for any given society. This isn't to say if nuclear power or weapons are good or bad or if it was justifiable to use nuclear weapons to end the war or not, those are questions that are open for debate on other forums, it is to say however, that as a Christian, who is commanded to love my neighbor and even my enemy, I must be concerned of the impact of such actions, and certainly their after effects. Godzilla in a way as only film can, becomes a parable of sort to such thoughts of those suffering through the difficulties of such things. It is one of the beautiful things of quality science fiction and horror that when done in an appropriate way,  causes us to think far and wide beyond just the images we see on screen. Godzilla in many ways is more than a movie monster, he is a metaphor for the consequences of our actions as humans. Godzilla is not just a beast from beyond, he is a creation of our own actions and lack of understanding and care for those around us, including the children who also occupy the spaces we dwell. 

www.thekeystonekid.orgGojira/Godzilla is an incredible movie, not so much the remakes, they are barely okay and entertaining at best. I don't know if they even come close to the social commentary of the original. Unfortunately though, even here, most of us have only seen the Americanized, edited, watered down version of this film. That in and of itself also says something else about film, the audience and at some level of spiritual and political commentary even more about ourselves as a movie going audience. If wanting to see an incredible classic though, just as some of us are blessed here in Wichita to do due to an incredible loving caring man, Leif Jonker, a man many mischaracterize because of his horror experience. We can enjoy quality, wonderful films from all genres, just as Steve and I were able to do with Gojira/Godzilla. I would encourage, if never seeing this film in its original, uncut restored version, see movie magic the way movie magic can be. Either look up the DVD or if given a chance, check out Rialto Pictures web site and try to catch a theatrical showing of the film. In the process, think about those impacted by the actions of society, governments and even neighbors. Think about the real monsters in life. While we may do what we can, we are impacted by our surroundings but can make a difference for the future if we choose, even when it means going out of the way to show others understanding. Gojira/Godzilla is a terrific example of that, in fact, the best I have seen so far this year as far as movies go.  Don't believe me, see the uncut, restored original for yourself and tell me otherwise after seeing the film. 

To see the original trailer for the film, just click on the following video, if having trouble with the video, click on the link:

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1 comment:

druidbros said...

I had not seen the original version before this summer either. It made me angry that the other 'Americanized' version was slapped together so we could not see the concept of how anti nuclear the original film turned out. Two totally different films.