The powerhouse that is Godzilla has always been an exciting character to watch for me. Destroying buildings and terrorising cities, every version of Godzilla satisfies my destructive urges. Fortunately, the original 1954 ‘Gojira’, directed by Ishiro Honda was the first film played in my Digital Asia subject at UOW. For this screening we had to live tweet our responses as we watched. Unfortunately, I was away for this screening as I had the flu. But I decided to watch it in my spare time anyway as I’ve always enjoyed watching Godzilla films, it can be my prep for the new Godzilla films coming out later this year, battling King Ghidorah and breaking stuff and whatnot.
My first impression of Gojira was that it was a fun, destructive adventure to watch and enjoy without thinking. However, after research and discussing with my peers, I realised that i’d barely scratched the surface. Making me question all other films with similar ideas and themes.
Gojira is a giant, scaly depiction of post WW2 fears of nuclear weapons, symbolising a nuclear holocaust of sorts. The theme also discusses the repercussion of these nuclear weapons and the revenge it was to take on mankind. The power of Gojira was intended to be similar to the power of an atomic bomb, like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I can only imagine what it would have been like to experience this masterpiece of cinema with memories of the actual destruction the atomic bomb had created for Japan. Reminding them of the horror that had only happened a couple years earlier.
Understanding this perspective really changed the way I viewed the film. It also made me appreciate the brilliant use of symbolism which went straight over my head and misunderstood for years. The symbolism still holds up today with the new films being brought out, probably not with the same impact and of course some depictions would miss the original point. Growing up in Sydney, I obviously had no experiences involving war and the destruction it causes. My sport and beach loving, binge drinking, “Australian” culture is completely different compared to 1954 Japan where they were recovering from devastating loss and destruction. But after some research of the cinema after WW2, it gives me the ability to be empathetic.
What a brilliant film. Understanding the culture from when it was released only makes it better.
Thanks for reading! if there’s anything you’d like to ask feel free to leave a comment!