Godzilla is more than six-and-a-half decades old and redefined the concept of a movie monster. Prior to 1954, horror consisted of classic, iconic figures, such as Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, and the Mummy. As terrifying as they were in their prime, they all had an aspect of them that was human -- and on the scale of being human.
1954. Enter a new sourse of mightmare material. A monster born of man's use of atomic weapons who towered over cities and spewed radioactive breath. A creature who killed by the hundreds, not individually. What wrath had man wrought?
Godzilla is the brainchild of Tomoyuki Tanaka. His goal was to portray and memorialize the terrors experienced by the Japanese people after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the original story, atomic bombs are tested over the Pacific, which awakens and irradiates a prehistoric monster. Godzilla's attacks represent the revenge and power of nature.
These bold statements are very difficult to appreciate in the West, as the orignal 1954 movie Gojira released by Toho studios in Japan is a very different version of the infamous edit starring Raymond Burr that Americans saw in 1956.
But there is further allegory. Notice that the Godzilla storyline also parallels relations between the United States and Japan. At first, Godzilla is a foe to the Japanese people, killing thousands and destroying its cities. But, gradually, Godzilla becomes a friend and protector of Japan against many different enemies. Finally, in the 21st Century, the focus of Godzilla stories is more global in nature, without political boundaries or agendas.
Although initially a statement against the atrosities of nuclear war, Godzilla has gone from being a political statement, to a monster to be destroyed, to a protector of humanity, to a children's hero, and, finally, to being the defender of Earth. Godzilla has appeared in movies, TV shows, anmiated series, books, comic books, video games, and so much more. He has been the villian, the victim, and the hero; scary, comical, and heartwretching. But at all times he truly was the "King of the Monsters."
Over the years his appearance was gradually altered to fit the new roles he was given -- evil, friendly, childish, mighty, animalistic, and intelligent. And, as (real) buildings and cities grew larger, so did Godzilla's size. With the advent of CGI, the latest incantation is much more fluid, athletic, and intimidating.
Although he is called "Godzilla" in the West, the name is actually a transliteration of the Japanese "Gojira," from the two words "gorira" ("gorilla") and "kujira" ("whale"). His look was inspired by three prehistoric dinosaurs: the Tyrannosaurus rex for the overall body shape; a Stegosaurus, for his dorsal plates; and the Iguanodon, giving Godzilla longer arms than a T-rex (necessary for both story-telling fighting and for the early real-life need to have an actor in a heavy suit).
Both Curators Thomas and Desiree have been fans of the Godzilla franchise in all its incantations since the 1970s. However, Desiree is truly more knowledgeable and loyal to the figure and its many forms, especially through the..."tough"...1980s and 1990s, where the character was constantly reinterpreted and revamped. Although, admiteddly, even she rolls her eyes at the mention of the 1998 release of "Godzilla," or, as she likes to call it, the "Ferris Bueller Iguana-zilla!" Ugh.
Below are the Godzilla Collectibles acquired by us at Starlight Nights. Enjoy!