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Sympathy for the Monster


slaytonf
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Looks like we're going to see the Raymond Burr-less monster movie, Gojira (1956).  Or so I understand from studying the TCM Database page on it.  I'm looking forward to comparing the two.  If my suspicions are correct, the original will compare favorably.  The shots of the Japanese movie, directed by Inoshiro Honda (a friend and co-worker of Akira Kurosawa), are much better composed, and action sequences have good energy to them.  A lot of the scenes are still powerful to me, even though I've seen the movie a number of times.  Honda does a good job of building tension, despite the film's conventional plot development.  There's the usual series of incidents--mysterious, shocking, unsettling-- leading to the eventual appearance of the monster, after which follow the big action scenes.  But Honda makes it appear as a natural unfolding of events, rather than the mechanical following of a formula.  The Raymond Burr scenes, by contrast, look static, schlocky, and amateurish--like they were thrown together over a weekend, while the real work on the movie lot was on hold.  And Mr. Burr plays it like a zombie.

 

Like all movies responsible for starting a tradition, or genre, like Frankenstein (1931), Gojira has become a victim of it's own success.  The following movies inevitably become derivative, and devolve into self-referential spoofery.  The originals become tarred with the bad reputation of the successors.  But Gojira is well-made movie.  It explores themes beyond the main attraction.  Glaringly apparent is the association of Gojira's radioactive rampages with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the forgotten city).  Japan is victimized by the monster, woken by H-bomb tests.  But Japan doesn't do that kind of testing.  And who does?  The scenes in the hospital of the victims are  patterned directly after newsreel footage.  But there might be another subtler message.  I don't know Honda's views, but if we can take his friendship with Kurosawa as a clue, Japanese militarism and aggression can be seen as the origin of the attacks.  And what are we to think of the Odo islander's experience with Gojira, an ancient pestilence to whom they used to sacrifice young girls to appease?  Nuclear testing to blame for that?

 

There also is the subplot of the tortured scientist.  The deadly discovery he makes serves as Japan's counterpoint to atomic weapons.  His orientation to his creation is pointedly different than the unnamed nuclear weapon developers.  He is horrified at its destructive capacity, and is desperate to conceal it, rather than propagate it (good for Japan!).  Naturally, circumstances force him to use it to save Japan from total ruination.  Thus we have the wicked irony of a weapon too terrible to conscience being used to destroy a creature engendered by weapons too terrible to employ.  He realizes control of the discovery would be torn from him, unless. . . .The existential crisis he is faced with provides the basis for the tragic conclusion.

 

Another plus is the music at the end.  The lamentable dirge emphasizes the somber pathos.  There is victory, but no one is happy.  And, don't you know it, you feel a little sorry for the old beast.  After all, it didn't ask to be roused from his sleep.  Maybe it wasn't vicious, but confused and threatened.  It didn't know what it was doing, just defending itself.  But when you're that big--well, it's a pity.  

 

Not'cher typical monster movie.

 

One last note.  Aficionados of Akira Kurosawa will recognize in the character of Kyohei Yamane-hakase the actor Takashi Shimura, one of his stock actors.  His most prominent role, probably, was of a doomed government bureaucrat in Ikiru (1952), who makes a heroic effort to do something worthwhile in his life, helping residents of a poor section of the city turn an open septic pit in their neighborhood into a children's playground.

 

 

Airs Thursday, 5 p.m., Pacific time.

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Hmmmmm..."Sympathy for the Monster", eh slayton?

 

Okay then, here ya go...

 

 

godzilla-dance-o.gif

 

Please allow me to introduce myself

I'm from the Jurassic age

 

Was asleep for long long years

but awoke when they rattled my cage

 

Please to meet you

Hope you guess my name

 

But what's puzzling you

Is that Raymond Burr once tried to upstage my game

 

(...yep, thaaaat's right, slayton ol' buddy...sometimes I DO have much too much free time on my hands, huh...to say nothin' about this whole stream-of-consciousness thing that sometimes overtakes my thoughts)

 

;)

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(...yep, thaaaat's right, slayton ol' buddy...sometimes I DO have much too much free time on my hands, huh...to say nothin' about this whole stream-of-consciousness thing that sometimes overtakes my thoughts)

 

;)

 

 

There are programs for that.  But you have to admit you need help.

 

That was a great take-off!  Lots of thumbs-up for it.  I wonder if it'll get back to Mr. Jagger.  (Did he write it?)

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The following movies of the topic became derivative?  Well, why do ya think we bothered to go SEE them?

 

For the "cinematic artistry"?

 

The "state of the art" special effects?

 

The acting and documentary level attention to detail and FACTS?

 

Geez......you appear to be trying to make the movie sound like the Japanese answer to CITIZEN KANE.  ;)

 

 

Sepiatone

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There are programs for that.  But you have to admit you need help.

 

 

So, kind'a like that old joke about how many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb, eh slayton?!

 

Only one...BUT the light bulb HAS to want to change.

 

 

 

That was a great take-off!  Lots of thumbs-up for it.  I wonder if it'll get back to Mr. Jagger.  (Did he write it?)

 

Thanks. And yeah, writing credits go to both Mick and Keith Richards.

 

(...for the original song that I mercilessly fractured down there, that is)  ;)

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I've always been fond of "Gorgo," the 1961 British film by Eugène Lourié that likely was influenced by "Gojira," "King Kong" (1933) and "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" (1953).

 

Gorgo is an ancient sea creature unleashed by a volcanic eruption near Ireland. It eventually is captured and transported to London by profiteers who plan to display it as a major attraction. But the movie has the mother-of-all plot twists, if you'll excuse the expression.

 

The film stars Bill Travers, known for sharing the spotlight with animals in "Born Free" and "Ring of Bright Water," and William Sylvester.

 

c90c326c.png

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The following movies of the topic became derivative?  Well, why do ya think we bothered to go SEE them?

 

For the "cinematic artistry"?

 

The "state of the art" special effects?

 

The acting and documentary level attention to detail and FACTS?

 

Geez......you appear to be trying to make the movie sound like the Japanese answer to CITIZEN KANE.  ;)

 

 

Sepiatone

 

Movies that inspire lineages, or genres, have in addition to the excitement and action that is popular with audiences, other elements, visual and thematic, that make them good movies.  Frankenstein (1931) is a masterpiece by James Whale.  But because of the campiness later movies descended to, its reputation has suffered.  The movie isn't usually recognized along with other great movies.  When it is mentioned, the most common remark made is that Boris Karloff played the monster.  As I said, it is a victim of its own success.  It's hard for me to say anything conclusive about Gojira (1954), because I've only seen the American-infused version (that's why I'm looking forward to Thursday, and hoping).  But from what I can see, it's a well-made movie, not on the level of Frankenstein, but certainly more than just something very large mowing down buildings with the military futilely shooting artillery at it until the Big Solution is found to take care of it.  It tries to say something about the human condition, or part of it, and the danger of meddling with elemental powers.  In my OP, I tried pointing out what's worthwhile in it.

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He and his actress-wife Virginia McKenna became animal activists after they filmed "Born Free."

 

 

 

 

I admire them for their work.  Virginia McKenna was especially passionate.  You can see it in her performance in Born Free (1966).

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Disappointment reigns.  No Gojira.  Just the same ol' Godzilla.

 

Why do you say that? TCM just broadcast the 1954 Japanese original (despite Ben M's wraparounds which said otherwise).

 

I have to say I found it pretty dull and tedious, excluding the scenes with the Big Boy himself. However, I appreciate having my first opportunity to see this version, thanks to TCM.

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slaytonf--An alternative title to Gojira is Godzilla.  Check the TCM webpage for "Gojira".

 

SPOILERS BELOW!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Film is Not the same old Godzilla.  No Raymond Burr, no nonsensical plot, just an allegory using Godzilla as a symbol for the nuclear bomb.  He has radioactive breath, the anti-American feeling is obvious for all viewers to see, the scientist whose device destroys Godzilla burns his plans for the device, so they can never be used again, and commits suicide so his knowledge can't be used again.  Film ends with prophecy that there are probably more of these monsters.  This film is Way darker and more pessimistic than the chopped up version with Raymond Burr.

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When I first saw this in a subtitled version at the Lafayette Theater in Suffern, NY, I couldn't believe the line by the woman running from the monster - "I survived Nagasaki and now this!" Wow.

 

The American importers hedged their bets by including the newly-shot footage of Burr and, while I don't think the U.S. version is bad at all, the original is far superior and very effective.  Fortunately, when RODAN was brought here they did some re-editing but added nothing more than a prologue. The story itself was left intact and beautifully dubbed by Keye Luke, Paul Frees and George Takei.

 

I never felt sympathy for Godzilla (other than the fact that he had to suffer those insufferable sequels).  The end of RODAN, however, was very empathetic due to the great effects and music.

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When I first saw this in a subtitled version at the Lafayette Theater in Suffern, NY, I couldn't believe the line by the woman running from the monster - "I survived Nagasaki and now this!" Wow.

 

 

I didn't notice that sub-title in last night's print. Would anybody know if it was there? That is a damning line of dialogue that no American cut version would dare include.

 

MV5BMjAzNTk3MTc2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzI5

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I scanned a recording of last night's print of Gojira and couldn't find the Nagasaki line reference. However, the scenes of devastation of the aftermath, as well as a short of a little girl being scanned for a radioactive reading speak for themselves.

 

Godzilla_Three_Reasons_Youtube_Still_vid

 

There is definitely a power to these moments.

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I really couldn't see much difference between last night's movie and the version with RAYMOND BURR.  Only that last night's flick didn't have Burr in it.  That didn't stop me from cracking jokes though....

 

At one point telling my wife, "YIKES, what a monster!  He's crushing that train like it was a TOY!"   ;)

 

 

Sepiatone

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The "Nagasaki" line was, I believe, when the woman, her friend and many others were running into the subway. I've seen the same line translated differently in two different versions - the official Rialto release and a pre-Rialto video version.

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Yes, Ben was misinformed as to which version was actually airing.

 

"Gojira" (Godzilla) 1954 was aproximately 96 min long, whereas the Americanized release "Godzilla, King of the Monsters!" (1956) is about 80 min long. That includes 16 plus minutes of original deleted footage and significantly more when one includes the re-shot added footage in the shorter version with Raymond Burr.

I think it's good to view both versions as each say something slightly different to their intended audience.

 

Those 16 plus minutes in the original are entirely from the Japanese perspective. And, as others have said, Gojira is a much darker, foreboding, film.

 

I find it somewhat ironic that Japan (the only nation yet to have experienced the devastation of a nuclear weapon), so fully embraced nuclear power decades later, only to have again been devastated by the nuclear genie.

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