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Gojira (Godzilla): The Original Japanese Masterpiece

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Raymond Burr, Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Momoko Kôchi, Akira Takarada
  • Directors: Ishirô Honda, Terry O. Morse
  • Writers: Ishirô Honda, Al C. Ward, Shigeru Kayama, Takeo Murata
  • Producers: Tomoyuki Tanaka
  • Format: Black & White, Collector's Edition, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English, Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: ANConnect
  • Release Date: Jan. 4 2010
  • Run Time: 175 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B000FA4TLQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36,512 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

The first of the Godzilla movies, and the most somber and serious in tone, Gojiro was originally a 98-minute Japanese horror film, until a U.S. company bought the rights and reissued the film at 79 minutes, replacing sequences involving a Japanese reporter with new inserts of a dour, pipe-smoking Raymond Burr. Both versions appear together for the first time in this release from Sony Wonder.

Product Description
This package contains:

* Godzilla (1954 Japanese Edition with English subtitles)
* King of the Monsters (1956 U.S. Release Edition-English voice-over dub)

* Audio commentaries
* Original trailers
*"Making of the Suite" Featurette
*"Godzilla: Story Development" featurette
*English subtitles

Customer Reviews

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Format: DVD
As nearly anyone who is reading this knows, the original 1954 "Godzilla" - a surprisingly stark and bleak anti-nuclear allegory - was released in America in 1956 with 40 minutes chopped off (including most of the anti-nuclear material) and 20 minutes of Raymond Burr added. This DVD from Classic Media is the first time the original version of "Godzilla" has been released on home video in North America, and it's a revealation: gloomy and completely non-cathartic in its destruction sequences, the Japanese cut plays more like an art film than a monster movie; its thematic material and serious take on Godzilla make it arguable the best of the series from a cinematic perspective. The American version, on the other hand, is actually not the abomination that some people claim: while lacking the artistic merit of the Japanese version, it's still a sober and entertaining flick in its own right, thanks to the power of director Ishiro Honda's original footage and the solemnity of Raymond Burr's performance.

The DVD has both versions of the film, each on its own disc. Image quality is not especially striking for either, although this has more to do with the state of film technology in 1950s Japan than poor DVD restoration. In fact, both films look as good as they ever have, and this is probably the sharpest and clearest you'll see them in the forseeable future.

The major extras are commentaries on both versions of the film by historians Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski (these tracks also include occasional guest appearances by others). The tracks cover just about everything there is to cover, and there is almost no overlap between the two tracks.
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I have enjoyed Godzilla movies since I was a kid, but the original never enthralled me the way that later installments did. Little did I know that I had never actually seen the original. All these years I had been watching the travesty of cinema that is the chopping and slicing of a cinematic masterpiece into a piece of drivel.

This DVD set contains the first North American home release of the Godzilla (Gojira) movie that made cinematic history. As a Geologist, I find the science is shakey throughout, however, what is truly important is the human message. This film is an allegorical warning that we have created a monster. It's no coincidence that the scenes of destruction look just like those old photos of Hiroshima and Nagasake after the atomic blasts. It's also no coincidence that all the scenes with the wounded and dying look just like those old photos of the victims of those atomic tasks. The parallel between the destruction wrought by Godzilla and the destruction wrought by the atom bomb are one and the same.

After watching the beautifully written and directed Gojira on Disc I, I struggled to watch the horribly gutted American version on Disc II--I eventually gave up on Disc II and went back and rewatched Disc I, and appreciated all the more the achievement of these pioneer filmmakers.
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Like many monster movie buffs, I have heard that there was an original Japanese version of Hollywood' "Godzilla", that didn't have Raymond Burr. Watching Gojira and Godzilla back to back, it is fascinating to see just what an incredible difference 'perspective' makes in the narrative of the film--not to mention the addition of several deleted scenes. In Godzilla you are basically in a third-person situation: the entire story told through the eyes of an American reporter. In Gojira, you are much less removed, much closer to a first person perspective, where you are moving right along with the characters in the film. I think what makes this even more significant in this case is that you are left puzzling over just what Gojira is, why it is here, what does it all mean. In Godzilla, this question is asked, but it is asked *for you*. As a result, the difference in emotional impact between the two films is staggering; I had seen Godzilla over a dozen times, but I felt like I was experiencing it all over again, only in a fresh, scarier way.

Godzilla is not a bad monster movie really--I think it holds up quite well (considering the period). However, it is a monster movie, first and foremost; Gojira is that and more. Watch Jurassic Park or Frankenstein again after this film: we create 'monsters' when our fascination with power and technology exceeds our wisdom to use them.

Not to be missed for monster movie buffs (the audio commentary is quite good), or anyone who appreciates another culture's perspective on something perhaps (too) familiar to North Americans.
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Produced around ten years after the atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and introducing a monster dislodged and empowered by nuclear testing, it isn't hard to guess at the subtext in the original Japanese film Gojira (1954). What's surprising is that the original isn't just about a guy in a suit stepping on models of tanks, it attempts a message, and emotional impact. As the monster destroys the city, a woman huddles in flames and rubble, trying to shelter her three children, saying "Not long now, soon we'll be reunited with father... not long now." Surprised? I was too.

North Americans have mostly known Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956) which is the same film recut with less emphasis on a tragic scientist, inserting scenes with Raymond Burr as a reporter who always seems to be in the right place, chomping on a pipe, shot so that it appears he was at the back of the room saying things like "My Japanese is a little rusty!" so that someone translates. On occasion, he also talks to the back of a head, meant to be one of the Japanese actors. In short, the English version reduces the film to something closer to a simple monster movie.

Both films are included here, along with commentary by experts (not people involved in the making of them), trailers and a few interesting featurettes on things like the making of the costume.
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