Godzilla: The Japanese Original
Japan, 1954, 98 Minute Running Time
ENDS THURSDAY at the Sie FIlmCenter.
While the great Japanese films of the 1950s like Rashomon, Ugetsu, and Seven Samurai have been revered in the U.S. as works of art, Japan’s biggest domestic hit of all, Godzilla, has been fondly regarded here as a classic of “cheesy” moviemaking. But that’s because it’s long been known only in an American version known as Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which deleted 40 minutes of the Japanese original – its very heart – while adding poorly-matched, shot-in-Hollywood scenes of Raymond Burr watching the action from the sidelines. Leaving less than an hour of the original’s 98 minutes, the cuts eliminated entirely its strong anti-nuclear theme – with Godzilla seen as a metaphor for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – and, oddly, all of its strong black humor. Directed by Ishirô Honda, who later went on to make such other classics of kaiju eiga (“strange creature movies”) as Rodan, Mothra, and The H-Man, often collaborating with special effects legend Eiji Tsuburaya, Godzilla’s human star is Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura (who played the Seven Samurai leader the same year). Both the Japanese and American versions spawned six decades of sequels, remakes and rip-offs – and fans. In honor of Godzilla’s 60th anniversary, the Sie FilmCenter is proud to present the uncut Japanese original.
Read a New York Times editorial about the Moral Authority of the original version of Godzillahere
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