Quick Hit: The King of the Monsters makes his first appearance in the unforgettable 1954 Gojira/Godizilla.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw the original Godzilla movie. I was staying home sick from school and was probably about 8. Seeing the man stomp around and knock over buildings was really really appealing, but what got my attention the most was just how dark this movie is. Keep in mind, as an eight year old, you may have heard that WWII happened and ended with a nuclear bomb, but the true idea of nuclear winter and the power behind nuclear weapons is a bit abstract. So the darkness held on to me throughout some of my formative monster movie years.
There is a lot going for the movie, and people tend to only remember the guy stomping around in a rubber suit. Instead, there are some really tense moments as we watch just about everyone die. And not in a fun way. We watch the camera pan over bodies lying in the rubble, and it’s not exactly eight year old material. The images, combined with the music, really make the tone a disaster movie.
This is because Godzilla was created out of the panic and the fear of nuclear weapons. After WWII, is it any wonder that Japan was still thinking about it? They had two cities that were completely devastated by the bombs, and thousands and thousands dead. So the idea of a nuclear monster destroying their most famous city doesn’t seem all that farfetched. Hence Godzilla’s fire/nuclear fire breath that just takes everything out.
And really, despite the fact that it’s a guy in a rubber suit, the effects are pretty good overall. That’s because they actually cared, unlike some of the sequels. They shot Godzilla mostly from below, using the camera to add perspective and make Godzilla appear much larger. The destruction is vast, and towards the end of the film, you feel for Godzilla. He’s just doing his job as a monster after all.
Side note: It’s really amazing to me how many of these giant monsters can somehow be sympathetic characters. We’re talking about huge monsters that are destroying buildings and killing people. It takes some pretty solid writing to make you have feelings for that.
I don’t have all that much to say, because I think it’s a great classic monster movie. It may not be a Universal Monster (my favorite), but it’s a fun series that you should watch if you like good B movies. I’m giving it a “B+”.
For more on this movie, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"