ゴジラ (Godzilla – 1954)
written by Takeo Murata and Ishirō Honda
from a story by Shigeru Kayama
directed by Ishirō Honda
A giant dinosaur awakened by hydrogen bomb testing rises from the depths of the sea as the authorities scramble to protect citizens from the lumbering monster. It’s Gojira – or to us Westerners, Godzilla – and it’s hell-bent on destroying post-World War II Japan, an obvious metaphor for the 1945 American bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Godzilla was a blockbuster, spawning countless sequels and remakes, but look beyond the rubber suit and miniature special effects (some quite impressive) and you’ll find a remarkably tender movie that serves not only as a solemn condemnation of nuclear testing, but as the unifying cry of a country finding its way after devastation. From a group of children singing in memory of the dead, to the final sacrifice of Dr. Daisuke Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata) as he kills the beast and then himself, Godzilla is as thoughtful as it is thrilling.