The Glory of Godzilla

TCM has picked Godzilla as its monster of the month for October & have been showing 4 or 5 films from the cannon every Friday. Unlike past monsters of the month Godzilla has been produced solely by Toho studios. Dracula, Frankenstein etc have been produced by various studies so there’s a lack of cohesion in those picture.

Not that Godzilla has a story arc but the creature has looked pretty much the same with its oversized rubber suit, staggering walk & roar. Various performers have brought nuanced various on their monsters. Godzilla is noted for his lack of nuance 🙂 That goes for the man in the suit to the actual actors in the films. These aren’t Kurosawa, though I wonder how he would have treated Godzilla – Toshiro Mifune could be pretty scary without the rubber suit.

I have been loving these films & seeing them subtitled, as opposed to dubbed, gives them more oomph. They are from a recent Criterion boxset that covers the oeuvre from 1954 to 1975. Plus TCM has added the ‘stand-alone’ backstory films of Rodan & Mothra. So they have been restored from original Japanese releases & have new subtitles theatre more accurate. All of them had been reconstituted at one time for the American market & as a result some of humour & political stances were lost in translation.

I’m also loving Ben Mankiewicz’s introduction to the pictures as he tries to treat them with scholarly insight. Let’s face it Kill All Monsters isn’t Throne of Blood.

I’m seeing many of these pictures for the first time though I have seen Mothra repeatedly – the Christian symbolism is surprising. I do have the 1954 original in both the Japanese version & the American remix with Raymond Burr seamlessly inserted into it. The American version removes all mentions of the atomic bomb being dropped on Japan. Radioactivity plays a role in many of the films – as it did in American creature features on the time.

Of the ones I’ve seen so far my favorite has been 1966’s ‘Ebirah, Horror of the Deep.’ It has a fun teenage dance contest I watched a few times before going on with the film. A bit of James Bond, a bit of beach party, & a great sea creature. Son of Godzilla was amusing but there was no Mrs. Godzilla – not that I’m expecting a documentary about reptile reproduction. 

I have soundtrack music in my cd collection, also other music written by some those composers. I have two Godzilla action figures & at least 3 t-shirts. I guess I’m a bit of fan. Thanks to TCM I’m not shelling out the nearly $300 for the boxset though.

Arrgh – Godzilla

as a kid

I would often play at being Godzilla

stomping on my toys

kicking them over

breathing my fire breath on them

invulnerable powerful dangerous

enjoying that ants were sacred of me

as I grew up

I would pull on my Godzilla suit

when things weren’t going my way

emotionally swing out at people

stomping on their intentions

when they didn’t suit my expectations

 

I later found out that Godzilla

was a man in a rubber suit

a small Japanese man

actually men

because the suit didn’t breath properly

the actors would tire out   get sick

they couldn’t see well out of the eye holes

and have to lead to the set

pointed in the right direction

just like my loss of vision

when I pulled on my Godzilla suit

to strike out at life

refusing to let anyone 

lead me in the right direction

if the actor was in the suit too long

he’d break out in a rash

get too itchy to wear it

 

me I’d break out in rash decisions

end up with itchy resentments

that I’d take out on those around me

 

like those actors

no one knew who I was

as long as I wore the suit

every good villain has a motive

has something he wants

but it was never clear what Godzilla wanted

expect to be left the fuck alone

we never see Godzilla relaxing

beyond floating 

to the bottom of the sea to sleep

all of his energy was spent

battling the nuisances of a life 

he didn’t even want to be part of

of being a monster stuck in a normal world

that didn’t have a place for monsters

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Arrgh – Godzilla

sample

Arrgh – Godzilla

as a kid

I would often play at being Godzilla

stomping on my toys

kicking them over

breathing my fire breath on them

invulnerable powerful dangerous

enjoying that ants were sacred of me

as I grew up

I would pull on my Godzilla suit

when things weren’t going my way

emotionally swing out at people

stomping on their intentions

when they didn’t suit my expectations

I later found out that Godzilla

was a man in a rubber suit

a small sweaty Japanese man

actually men

because the suit didn’t breath properly

the actors would tire out  get sick

they couldn’t see out of the eye holes

and had to lead to the set

pointed in the right direction

just like my loss of vision

when I pulled on my Godzilla suit

to strike out at life

but I refused to let anyone

lead me in the right direction

if the actor was in the suit too long

he’d break out in a rash

get too itchy to wear it

me I’d break out in rash decisions

end up with itchy resentments

that I’d take out on those around me

like those actors

no one knew who I was

as long as I wore the suit

every good villain has a motive

has something he wants

but it was never clear what Godzilla wanted

except to be left the fuck alone

we never see Godzilla relaxing

beyond floating

to the bottom of the sea to sleep

all of his energy was spent

battling the nuisances of a life

he didn’t even want to be part of

of being a monster stuck in a normal world

that didn’t have a place for monsters

rubble02

Godzilla sneezed

This is a piece that works on many levels – the retro nostalgia of Japanese horror movies for starters and how they effected the child and how they resonate within us as adults. Though this pulling on of the suit didn’t occur to me as the result of nostalgia. I’d purchased a great Godzilla t-shirt at FanExpo & was wearing at a recovery meeting. The topic was acting out and this whole image of me donning the Godzilla suit to act out as someone I wasn’t came to me.

boots

Jake was here a minute ago

It moves into the practicality of the actors in those suits – all true info about the rashes, the visual difficulties – which were somewhat solved for later movies. I push the analogy of hiding in the suit, acting out in the suit, in hopes that the suit would get the blame – no one blames the actor in the Godzilla movies for the damage that results.

boot2

booted under

I might also add that sweaty Japanese men are definitely on my list of turn ons – I’m sure some of that comes from these films and the exoticness of the actors – though the good-looking one’s were usually the reporters not the scientists. The American release of the first Godzilla was repackaged from the original to include scenes with Raymond Burr (pre-Perry). Burr is one of those out-but-hidden  gay actors – adding an ever deeper resonance of the nature of hidden to this piece.

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