- January 7th, 2015 at 2:57 PM #12380
With last summer’s blockbuster take on the iconic prehistoric creature we all know and love, directed by Gareth Edwards – and making up for, many claim, Roland Emmerich’s rather disappointing vision in 1998 – a resurgence in all things Godzilla has had fans clamoring for more. Recently, there has been talk of a new Godzilla film from Toho, the studio behind the original motion picture in 1954, with an emphasis on the fact that it will be made in Japan; with the original version made in Japan and countless remakes that came out of the U.S., this could be an opportunity for the Japanese to reiterate the political message exuded from the first film’s narrative. What’s more, this year marks the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – applicable when discussing the topic of Godzilla, as the subtext of the original was widely considered an allegory for the U.S. using nuclear warfare against Japan during World War II.
Touched upon in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, the concept of “kaiju” forms the basis for the Godzilla stories, with the word literally meaning “strange creature” in Japanese. The term would evolve to refer to a genre of “tokusatsu entertainment”, with monsters of many forms shown attacking major Japanese cities or engaging another monster – or monsters – in battle. Godzilla is great example of daikaiju, one of the larger variety of monsters in this genre, as is Gamera, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla and Daimajin, and Toho has been instrumental in bringing these creatures to life on film throughout the years.
Yet unbeknownst to even some cinema enthusiasts, Godzilla films have been tempered for different international audiences. Case in point: The 1956 original boasted an “Americanized edit” different from Ishiro Honda’s masterpiece, with many film historians calling Honda’s original a “far more darker and seamless topical fantasy of uncommon power.” The ’56 American cut, meanwhile, starred Raymond Burr who was put in as a U.S. interlocutor, a move often criticized as being a “paragon of western stoicism” what with Burr’s boxy suit and pipe held aloft like a talisman.
Indeed, the original Godzilla – known to the Pan Pacific region as Gojira – is an earnest, urgent film in its delivery, with many critics even calling it a “profoundly unsettling window into the foray of natural trauma.” Upon theatrical launch, the film lost the Japanese Movie Association award for Best Picture that year to Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai – yet even amidst defeats such as this, Gojira is said to be unmatched in its sheer somber power compared to Gareth Edward’s reboot/reimagining and the now-iconic 1956 American edit.
Make no mistake about it, though – it was the box office success of last summer’s blockbuster Godzilla by Gareth Edwards that put into motion the idea for a new vision to come out of Toho. Prior to the Edwards-helmed special effects extravaganza, all fans of the monster from the deep had to compare it to was Roland Emmerich’s disastrous take on the legendary creature, which was wrong from top to bottom. You can easily watch the two films (and many others in the series) through avenues like iTunes or DirecTV to compare and contrast what Edwards was able to do that Emmerich wasn’t. Many fans went so far as to feel Emmerich took a page from Spielberg’s book with creature effects that resembled the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, not the spine-backed roaring beast we all know as Godzilla. Be that as it may, the company behind the original is getting back into the game – even amidst plans by Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures to release a sequel to Edwards’ film – by announcing plans to launch a new Godzilla in 2016. This would put Toho’s version two years ahead of the Warner/Legendary sequel…and many fans have been asking why the original studio has jumped back into the ring all these years later.
According to Taichi Ueda, a Toho producer, “The time has come for Japan to make a film that will not lose to Hollywood,” with another Toho staff member adding, “This is very good timing after the success of the American version this past year; if not now, when? The licensing contract we have with Legendary Pictures places no restrictions on us making domestic versions.”
In the annals of significant, influential cinema, Godzilla stands without peers as being an important film; a surprisingly somber meditation on means and ends. By the Guinness World Records’ calculations, Toho’s Godzilla is the longest-running franchise in motion picture history, and according to several sources the 29th film is one of multiple plans in place for the iconic monster. Either way, fans have a lot to roar about.January 7th, 2015 at 3:24 PM #12381
You might get more life out of this if you posted it as a guest post for the blog.
Whatever you want to do though of course.
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