29 July 2017

Fan Awareness of Godzilla's Dual Identity

The value of a film can be assessed from its production and reception. What makes the Godzilla films an exceptional case is that it took longer than 50 years to fully appraise the reception on a par with the original production. Such a gap was created by a travestying version of the 1954 original that gave birth to Godzilla as both a celebrated kaiju character and a film genre. This conclusion is shared by many, even the Japanese critics and historians who mercilessly dissected the Americanized edit Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956) with Raymond Burr. The sensitive historical context within which Godzilla was born understandably made its export to America more or less a process where the beloved daikaiju was stripped of his originally dark and cautionary tale about nuclear horrors that his creators intended to convey. However, the charm of the 1956 recut is indisputable and a natural given among the Western fans because it was thanks to this highly edited version that Goji-san brought tremendous financial success, along with establishing his name and his one-of-a-kind genre beyond the borders of Japan. In 2004, fifty years after its debut in Japan, the original Godzilla film was screened in American cinemas for the first time, which was a revelation to his international fans who recognized that they hardly knew him.