This week we looked at Gojira, a film from 1954 and the very first film in the Godzilla franchise. I should preface this by stating that this was my very first Godzilla film, yet I do have an understanding of the general premise of the kaiju style.
I grew up watching many of the classic cartoons of my generation; Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Yughioh and Digimon (And even Sailor Moon and Card Captors when my sisters were around), but there were also plenty of non-Japanese ‘toons, like Rugrats, Batman: The Animated Series, and many others. I had a healthy dose of shows to obsess over.
I also played video games, like the Nintendo 64 and Gameboy. I have particular memories of playing a broken Pokemon Red cartridge, which was unable to save. Basically, it was a permadeath runthrough of Pokemon, but I played it anyway, because I loved it.
However, even with all this exposure to Japanese digital, it took me a while to even realise that these products I consumed were from Japan. I grew up in Australia, and besides video games, tv shows and movies, I wasn’t exposed to heaps of foreign culture. I didn’t even leave the country until 2011, where I went to Europe.
Now, however, as a digital media student with an interest in film and TV, I always find it interesting to look back at classics; And Gojira is just that: A classic. So many modern tropes spawned from this film. We live tweeted the event, and it opened my eyes to even more of those aspects that I missed, like all the anti-war, and yet seemingly pro-military allusions.
Examples of the anti-war aspects are the clear comparisons between Gojira and the atomic bombs. The destructive power and lasting effects left behind by the monster show clear parallels between the two bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima just nine years prior to this films release.
Yet, seemingly contrary to the films denotation of war, it has heavy aspects of supporting Japans military and defense forces. There’s an inspirational scene where, when all else is failing, they call in the military, and a military-arrives-from-all-angles montage breaks out.
All in all, Gojira was great to watch and commentate on because it gave context to a lot of the classic cliche’s that are prevalent in modern cinema television.