THE GREATEST MONSTER MOVIE EVER MADE.82>
What evil genius thought to splice a Japanese monster movie together with US-shot Raymond Burr footage to create the PERFECT monster movie?!
The differences in production values between the original and the manufactured scenes is fascinating. The glimpse into fragments of Japanese culture is also fascinating and was a unique and driving experience when I was a kid fascinated by this movie. Godzilla is so much more than a guy in a Godzilla suit stomping a model of Tokyo flat -- someone left the door open and glimpses of a tantalizing alien culture far more sophisticated and civilized than our own were allowed to be seen by the second-third waves of Baby Boomer kids.
The awesome score drives this one over the top, over the MOON. Godzilla isn't just a bull's-eye, it's the arrow the mythical archer split the tree with. Cheap special effects abound.
The acting in the Japanese version is very good and emotionally moving, the US-produced acting, aside from Raymond Burr is directly from Central Casting. The monster itself, Godzilla, Gojira, is of mythical proportions. A huge monster awakened by atomic detonations from its sixty-million-year-long sleep destroys all it sees. It's unimportant why. Destruction is absolute. "And all man's genius seemed pale and weak" is a great line from a similar Japanese monster movie -- the humbling experience that a giant monster is eating our lunch and that we are powerless. In the 1950s! The height (up until 2005) of military-worship!
Science fiction is a liberating vehicle as far as being able to present a possible world, possible worlds, which would otherwise mightily piss off the status quo, get you burned at the stake. And so Godzilla allows the notion that other realities could be just as real as what you're doing right now. Maybe there is something else out there. It's entertaining, it's enlightening, it's empowering. And Godzilla tragically dies with Dr. Serizawa and the secret of his Oxygen Destroyer at the end of the movie, "Live happily with Emiko." OH MY GOD. How Japanese can you get? BRILLIANT STUFF.
I have honestly lost track of how many times I've watched Godzilla. It was the first videotape I bought when I first bought a VCR ($80 for a tape?!). Since then I've found the original Japanese version (it would make a great B side to a future edition of this DVD). I still love this movie. I know it through and through. It's fascinating in its original Japanese version, but somehow, accidentally, the US-spliced version transcends itself and gracefully rises to an iconic height -- this is a fun movie to watch, but it's also the true high-water mark for the entire genre of giant monster movies, effortlessly surpassing *everything* produced before or since.
The schlocky US-produced bits mingle with the very well produced Japanese original, held together with Raymond Burr -- when a "real" actor takes a science fiction role seriously it makes an enormous difference -- think of Forbidden Planet and the original The Thing From Another World -- while Godzilla doesn't have the budget of either of those movies, Raymond Burr's acting carries the day. The result is a brilliant, never-to-be-repeated amalgam of pieces which somehow tell a taut, compelling story that will delight every little boy who likes monster movies.
Godzilla is truly the greatest monster movie ever made. Godzilla is one of the best movies ever made, it may not be The Rules of the Game but it's a lot of fun, and fun ought to count for more than it ordinarily does when it comes to ranking movies.