After watching the trailer for Pacific Rim, I was bitten by the Kaiju bug. Looking to get a quick fix, I decided to check out the movie that gave birth to the genre, the 50’s classic "Gojira" (Aka Godzilla). The version I watched was the original Japanese version with English Subs, not the Americanized "Godzilla, King of the Monsters".
Now prior to this, I had watched parts of this movie before, as it shows up on cable TV once in a while. However, I had never watched it from beginning to end. Because of this, I had never quite enjoyed the movie for being more than a film about a giant lizard-creature terrorizing Japan.
As a movie, Godzilla does a great job of building up the suspense, from the opening credits which are backed by the frightening roar of Godzilla to the moment when the scientists see the giant monster for the first time. As a popcorn flick about destruction, it is an entertaining way to spend an hour and a half.
However, this film truly shines because it encapsulates the feelings of the Japanese people post-World War II. Much of the film echoes the fears and anger of the Japanese towards nuclear weaponry. Although the Japanese surrendered following the bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States continued to develop its nuclear weapons. In that, sense Godzilla represents the potential destruction that could come about from the future development of nuclear weaponry.
Godzilla cannot be stopped by normal military might, much like armies are rendered useless in the face of nuclear weapons. Mirroring this reality, the Japanese people must find a weapon powerful enough to destroy Godzilla. One scientist, Dr. Serizawa, has a new technology that could potentially defeat Godzilla. He created the Oxygen Destroyer, which has a great destructive potential.
This dash to attain the newest technology in order to gain military superiority is still relevant today as humanity, or at least its leaders, continue to invest resources in an arms race against their opposition.
However, in Godzilla, Dr. Serizawa symbolizes mankind's responsibility to use technology wisely. That is why Dr. Serizawa sees to it that his Oxygen Destroyer is not used for the wrong angendas once it has served its purpose of defeating Godzilla.
Godzilla is is great piece of cinematic history for its time and a triumph of Japanese filmmaking both for what happens on screen and the thoughts and feelings about war that are conjured up in the audience's minds. Closing in on the 60th anniversary of this movie , one has to wonder if we will ever have the foresight and accountability, to each others as human, to use technology in a less destructive manner.