I should mention I love the Godzilla films. There is an element of kitsch in the later ones (as in clip-o-rama fest with a cute kid story as the glue holding them together, All Monsters Attack
), but several of them, especially the Ishiro Honda films, are legitimately fun masterpieces of kaiju
action! Beautiful sets, great wrestling in rubber suits, cute girls and fantastic music by Akira Ifukube. What more could you ask from cinema, at times?
And the first Godzilla
is absolutely harrowing with it's low lighting and painful burning, unending destruction of Japan where it's left as badly charred and flat as post-bomb Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The country is vulnerable enough in the post-war years, but efforts of nuclear energy and war perpetrates a creature of unbenevolent violence without an ounce of compassion or sense of what Godzilla does to innocent people. Plus the great Takashi Shimura shines as brightly as he ever does. It's done with grave seriousness and the concept of Godzilla as a loveable character does not exist. But this came out in an era of Japanese cinema where adults were the majority going to see movies and by the mid-sixties, it became stuff aimed toward kids when they became the new audience. Either way, both types of films are not without it's charm
And if Criterion has been on their streak of putting second features on a disc in great 1080p transfers (Killer's Kiss
and Murder a la Mod
), I can easily see the Raymond Burr edition getting a fantastic transfer as well. It has its followers as well, too.
And Criterion, if you are reading this now, please, please get David Kalat for the commentary!
Now let's end this with the cutest image of all time, Godzilla with his/her (depending on what film) co-star Momoko Kochi