GOJIRA – THE ORIGINAL SLIZZARD LIZARD FROM THE EAST.

I have never been an avid consumer of films from the 50’s but I am aware that they comprise of a particular recipe. Where does this awareness come from?! Well, luckily for me my dad is obsessed with 50’s films, so whenever I am swaggering through the lounge room I find myself quickly observing the world of 1950’s Hollywood cinema.

When I found out we would be watching Gojira, 1954, I was pretty excited, mainly because I have never seen a Japanese film from the 50’s and was interested to see if it would be any different from the one’s my dad is constantly ogling at.

While watching Gojira, I was really trying to pick up on distinct elements of Asian culture, but I just could not get past the uncanny similarities between it and the American films of that time. This was particularly obvious with regard to the composure of males and females. YES I was not really focused on the giant, mutated amphibian that was defacing the city of Tokyo and its people. I was too busy studying the actions of the characters.

The lead female character, Emiko, depicts the archetypal female of that time. This becomes pretty obvious through her conservative ‘housewife’ clothing and overall, consistent ‘damsel in distress’ demeanour e.g.

Emiko
Clinging to/being held by male figure.
emiko1
‘I can be your hero baby’ – Enrique Iglesias perfectly depicting Dr. Serizawa’s thoughts.

These kind of gender roles are mirrored in famous western movies of the 50’s era:

Kiss-Me-Deadly-1955
Kiss Me Deadly, 1955 – ‘Ugh, get off me peasant.’
Pickup-on-South-Street-1953
Pickup on South Street, 1953 – Female figure swooning in male figures arms.
submissive downward eye
Vertigo, 1958 – Female figure demonstrates downturned, submissive eye. Male figure appears domineering and assertive through gaze and physical contact.

I also found that the sheer amount of violence made it hard for any elements of Asian culture to come through e.g. most scenes are dark and ominous to reflect the sense of doom and loss of hope that Gojira’s presence brings, however, this makes it hard to see the surrounding landscape:

Upon further discussion, I did not realise that Gojira may have been used as a tool to subconsciously instill fear into viewers regarding nuclear energy and its destructive potential. Coming out of WW2, the battle between Gojira and the military power must have been a symbol of how useless and minuscule this power is in the face of something as huge as nuclear energy. Thus the movie carries a powerful, underlying anti-war message:

“…if we continue conducting nuclear tests, it’s possible that another Godzilla might appear somewhere in the world again.”

Kyohei Yamane-hakase, Gojira, 1954.

Ultimately, this helped me to recognise the global success of the film. I can also see why the West adopted it and made their own version because it plays upon the basic, universal human emotions and actions that come about in times of crisis e.g. fear, violence, sadness and distress.

I guess my current knowledge of Asian culture caused me to predict how this film from the 50’s would have been. However, in the modern line of production, Asian culture has clearly developed a more distinct sense of style and identity e.g. Anime, Cosplay, fashion etc.

Overall, pretty cool movie;

9/10 slizzard lizards.

Alex 🙂

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