I have my brother to thank for my introduction into the world of Japanese media, the many plots he conjured to sneakily change the channel from mum’s morning news to the much loved Cheez TV without her noticing. Though thinking back it was probably the chaos of organizing 3 rowdy children that she was oblivious to the change of station rather than my brothers sly ploys. Either way from a very young age I’ve been watching Anime, Manga and various other forms of Japanese media starting with Pokemon, One Piece, Avatar and Naruto on morning TV to watching Attack on Titan and Full Metal Alchemist as subbed series online. I have not however watched many non-animated Japanese movies so I was quite excited to see how or if it would differ from the mediums I usually consume.
In the first couple of scenes I very much got a Hitchcock “the Birds” vibe with the old school cinematic horror techniques and sounds scores. I think that I thought it would feel more culturally different being a Japanese film in the 1950’s, however the characters, the dress codes and the societal interactions all were very familiar to me. Even though it is in a different language I can still relate to the humor and references, it is more the old style film techniques that is different to consume, but no different to old black and white films made in Hollywood. I also found that although this is supposed to be a horror film most of the class ended up laughing at the things that were supposed to scare us, but I think this is a symptom of the old film techniques as we are spoiled with very realistic special effects of modern cinema.
As the film progressed and the twitter feed became more researched some of my classmates where drawing connections between the themes in the movie and it’s post war release.
I started viewing the film from a completely different perspective picking up on the indirect references war an nuclear disaster such as two women complaining on a train “First contaminated tuna, and now Godzilla”, then becoming less subtle with the main protagonists arguing about combating violence with violence. from the perspective of an audience with nuclear war fresh in their minds these references would have cut close to the bone and probably would have been more obvious, the horror not being a gimmicky monster but more so what that monster represents: a devastating weapon created by the greed of mankind. As the Tanaka said “Mankind had created the Bomb………and now nature was going to take revenge on mankind”.
The filmmakers then go on to leave the audience with a foreshadowing political message: “If we keep conducting nuclear tests, another Godzilla may appear somewhere in the world.”