Gojira (1954) starring Akira Takarada, Momoko Kôchi, Akihiko Hirata
Synopsis of Gojira
When the ocean’s surface begins to boil white-hot and a Japanese freighter vanishes into the Pacific, the superstitious villagers of Odo Island fear an ancient legend has come true–the legend of Gojira! Awakened from an eons-long sleep by an atomic bomb explosion, the behemoth turns Tokyo into a wasteland of atomic fire and rubble. Who, or what, can stop it?
Review of Gojira
Editor’s note: This review is for Gojira, the original Japanese Godzilla movie – not the Americanized version with Raymond Burr – that will be reviewed under Godzilla- King of the Monsters.
I’d like to contrast it with the Burr version. In short, it’s a much tighter story, slowly moving from something causing destruction at sea, and on Odo island, until it’s finally seen about 25 minutes into the film. Gojira is a devastating terror — a mobile natural disaster, that mankind’s technology is worthless against. Gojira is a metaphor for the potential dangers of atomic radiation – but it’s more than that. It’s a metaphor for humanity’s hopelessness, despite our hubris, against nature unbridled.
Characters in Gojira
- Hideto Ogata (Akira Takarada, Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, Godzilla 2014). Pilot, the first protagonist, who’s in love with Emiko.
- Emiko Yamane (Momoko Kôchi, Godzilla vs. Destroyah, The Mysterians). Lovely, kind, young lady, who’s in love with Ogata. But engaged since childhood to Serizawa.
- Daisuke Serizawa-hakase (Akihiko Hirata, Sanjuro, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla). The brilliant scientist, who may have found a way to stop Gojira. But he fears that his knowledge is too dangerous to use – if used once, it can be used again. And it could lead to the destruction of all life on the planet. He also is truly, deeply, in love with Emiko. And he knows that she doesn’t return his feelings.
Kyohei Yamane-hakase (Takashi Shimura, Seven Samurai, Rashomon). Emiko’s father, a leading paleontologist sent by the Japanese government to Odo island. There, he finds a live trilobite – that should be a million years extinct. And large radioactive footprints, and finally, Gojira itself. In some ways, he is the film’s Cassandra – the prophet whose warnings come true, but are ignored.
In short, Gojira is a wonderful film that has aged well, with excellent moments large and small. For example, there’s a moment as Gojira is rampaging through Tokyo, and a mother is cuddling with her daughters. She comforts them by saying that, in a moment, they’ll be reunited with their father. And they’re presumed to be killed.
I rate Gojira 5 stars, an A+. I frankly can’t imagine how it could be improved.