Godzilla (The Criterion Collection)
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Ishiro Honda’s Godzilla is the roaring granddaddy of all monster movies. It’s also a remarkably humane and melancholy drama made in Japan at a time when the country was still reeling from nuclear attack and H-bomb testing. Its rampaging radioactive beast, the poignant embodiment of an entire population’s fears, became a beloved international icon of destruction, spawning more than twenty sequels and spinoffs. This first thrilling, tactile spectacle continues to be a cult phenomenon; here, we present the original, 1954 Japanese version, along with Godzilla: King of the Monsters!, the 1956 American reworking starring Raymond Burr (Rear Window).
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New high-definition digital restoration • Audio commentary by David Kalat (A Critical History and Filmography of Toho’s Godzilla Series) • New high-definition digital restoration of Godzilla: King of the Monsters!, Terry Morse’s 1956 reworking of the original, starring Raymond Burr • Audio commentary for Godzilla: King of the Monsters! by Kalat • New interviews with actor Akira Takarada (Hideto Ogata), Godzilla performer Haruo Nakajima, and effects technicians Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai • Interview with legendary Godzilla score composer Akira Ifukube • Featurette detailing Godzilla’s photographic effects • New interview with Japanese-film critic Tadao Sato • The Unluckiest Dragon, an illustrated audio essay featuring historian Greg Pflugfelder describing the tragic fate of the fishing vessel Daigo fukuryu maru, a real-life event that inspired Godzilla • Theatrical trailers • New and improved English subtitle translation • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic J. Hoberman
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But for people who have only seen him fighting Mecha-Robo-Mothzilla or whatever, the original "Godzilla"/"Gojira" will probably seem like a very different movie. Despite having a man in a rubber suit squishing miniatures, this is no campiness, no silliness, no over-the-top action. It's a sobering, slow-moving movie that just happens to involve a giant nuclear lizard.
Two Japanese vessels suddenly explode and sink, and the Coast Guard has no idea what or who could have done this. A single survivor washes ashore, declaring that a "monster" destroyed the boats. Oh, and fish have mysteriously vanished from the ocean, which a superstitious old guy attributes to a sea god called "Gojira."
Like all superstitious old guys, he's actually right. While a group of scientists investigate the weird goings-on on the island, a vast reptilian creature appears, says hi, and then vanishes back into the ocean. He is "Gojira," aka "Godzilla," a prehistoric monster who has been woken from his aeons-long slumber by recent thermonuclear activity in the Pacific. Dr. Yamane (Takashi Shimura) is conflicted by the government's determination to destroy Godzilla.
Meanwhile, Yamane's daughter Emiko (Momoko Kōchi) reveals to her new boyfriend Hideto (Akira Takarada) that her reclusive fiance, Dr. Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata) has a dark secret -- a scientific weapon that might be able to stop Godzilla. But Serizara fears it could also be turned against other human beings.Read more ›
One more point. This is not just a great Godzilla film it's a great film period! You don't have to like monster movies to enjoy it. Much in the same way people enjoy the original Frankenstein.
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