Gojira (aka Godzilla)
"I can't believe that Godzilla was the only surviving member of its species... But if we continue conducting nuclear tests, it's possible that another Godzilla might appear somewhere in the world again." - Yamane
release year: 1954
viewing setting: home DVD, 7/3/19 and 5/6/98
synopsis: A gigantic radioactive dinosaur awakens and causes all kinds of destruction.
impressions: This was the first of the Godzilla movies, and was quite serious. I need to start with the clarification that this was actually Gojira (the original Japanese version) not Godzilla (the later Americanized version)...meaning that this movie drew heavily upon the Japanese fear of atomic bombs, and rightfully so considering what had just happened nine years before. Anyway, I've said in past reviews that this didn't age well, and perhaps that's true, but it was undoubtedly terrifying in 1954. Godzilla made his first-ever appearance, for the record, at 21:30, was said to be about fifty meters tall in this one, and looked somewhat paunchy and goofy from certain angles. But then he'd eat a train or tear down a tower or rip apart a bridge or incinerate a city block with his breath, reminding the viewer that he was essentially a walking weapon of mass destruction. He basically destroyed Tokyo here, and one scene even showed people dying as he breathed on them. Nothing they tried - depth charges, machine guns, heavy artillery, a giant electrified fence, tanks, missiles - really stopped him or even slowed him down, until the final weapon at the end. Other noteworthy elements from this one: leaders arguing about what to do, a scientist who doesn't want to use his secret weapon because he fears that others will duplicate it and do bad things, a woman who repeatedly collapses in tears when faced with a stressful situation.
number in Godzilla series: 1
previous Godzilla movie in series: (none)
next Godzilla movie in series: Godzilla Raids Again
other giant monsters appearing in this one: (none)
acting: Akira Takarada is the main hero guy, some sort of salvage person. Momoko Kochi is his love interest, who can't really handle pressure or emotional situations. Takashi Shimura is her father, a scientist who wants to study Godzilla despite the havoc he wreaks. Akihiko Hirata is another scientist who's secretly invented something that might be able to stop Godzilla, but fears to use it.
final word: It's aged somewhat badly, but it's still a classic, and should be viewed in the context of its era.
back to the main review page