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Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Godzilla" (1954) - Movie Review



Having not seen all the "Godzilla" movies, I don't know if this is the best one. But, I'm guessing that it does have the best story and characters. There are two versions of this: The original Japanese version ("Gojira"), and the "Americanized" version, where Raymond Burr is inserted into the story, and other cuts are made.

I've seen both versions (available from Criterion, by the way). As you'd expect, the original version is better. In this case, however, the Japanese version (which has a separate IMDb page), is far superior. This is because we get to know the characters much better. There is a lot more human emotion in the original. Also, the cutaways to Raymond Burr (shot separately, two years later in the U.S.) don't distract from the story. The cuts from the original are critical, since they are about the characters.

A thematic difference is that there is the angle of Godzilla being the product of American Hydrogen Bomb testing. Definitely guessing that Americans didn't want to hear that part, which is why those comments are deleted from the Americanized version.

Of course, the 1950's American monster movies blame their monsters on radioactivity, so in that way, there isn't too much of a difference!

The original version also has a bit more Godzilla smashy-smashy action! If you are in a hurry to see it, you are in for a wait. 'Zilla doesn't show up (except for a quick head shot) until about the 42-minute mark in both versions.

I definitely recommend the Japanese version. Yes, there are subtitles, but it's worth it! The American version runs 1:20 and the Japanese version runs 1:36.

Japanese version: **** (4 Out of 5 Stars)
American version: **1/2 (2 1/2 Out of 5 Stars)

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