March 14th, 2011 / 8:34 pm

“somber silence, broken by periodic weeping.”

“This B-movie fare is widely mocked, often for good reason. But the early “Godzilla” films were earnest and hard-hitting. They were stridently anti-nuclear: the monster emerged after an atomic explosion. They were also anti-war in a country coming to grips with the consequences of World War II. As the great saurian beast emerges from Tokyo Bay to lay waste to the capital in 1954’s “Gojira” (“Godzilla”), the resulting explosions, dead bodies and flood of refugees evoked dire scenes from the final days of the war, images still seared in the memories of Japanese viewers. Far from the heavily edited and jingoistic, shoot’em-up, stomp’em-down flick that moviegoers saw in the United States, Japanese audiences reportedly watched “Gojira” in somber silence, broken by periodic weeping.” – Peter Wynn Kirby (read the rest here)



  1. Anonymous

  2. Michelle

      I think they’re going to need a bigger monster.

  3. deadgod

      Striking, as it was in a different way 9/11: the rescue teams, trauma clinics, medevac helicopters in Japan – with a few undeniably emotionally affective examples, there’s no one ‘to save’ with triage. People either got away from the waves, or not.

      That’s a void in – or to or for – art: walk away from it, and there’s nothing ‘to save’ – only living to regenerate from the materials that persist beyond catastrophe.

      And my poore Foole is hang’d: no, no, no life?
      Why should a Dog, a Horse, a Rat haue life,
      And thou no breath at all? Thou’lt come no more,
      Neuer, neuer, neuer, neuer, neuer!
      Pray you vndo this Button. Thanke you Sir.
      Do you see this? Looke on her? Looke her lips,
      Looke there, looke there!

  4. Rion Amilcar Scott

      I was waiting for someone to make this connection. Not just Godzilla, but so much of the movies coming from Japan indirectly deal with being a post nuclear bombed society. A lot of manga movies and comics take place in post-apocalypse societies.

  5. Amber

      Kyle, thank you thank you thank you. The original (pre-Raymond Burr inserted) Gojira is a fucking masterpiece. I have never been more pissed off in my whole life than when I saw it in remastered form at the Castro in San Francisco and the audience laughed almost the whole time, even though there’s seriously nothing funny about it at all. (They laughed at such things as the hero tying a bandage around his head–I assume because he was Asian and hey, kung fu? I don’t even know. It was so offensive and terrible.) They laughed because they were prepared to laugh, of course, because people don’t understand that the first films weren’t camp. They were (as Rion points out above) Japan’s way of making sense of and expressing their horror about nuclear technology and man’s inhumanity to man on a new and unimaginable scale.

      That’s not to say that all the other Gojira films aren’t awesome in their own campy way. But the first Gojira is a tragic and beautiful film made by a people still struggling with unspeakable tragedy, and it’s a damn shame that more people don’t know that.

  6. Rion Amilcar Scott


      Asian cinema has been done wrong in this country. Even a lot of Kung-Fu movies (not all of them by any means) are real sensitive masterpieces. You can’t tell me that the 36th Chamber of Shaolin and Shaolin vs. the Lama (in parts) aren’t great cinema. But because of the camp factor, people are conditioned to laugh and be dismissive.

  7. Amber

      Yes! Totally agree.

  8. Anonymous