Godzilla King of the Monsters

Godzilla, king of monsters.
Godzilla, king of monsters. | Source

It is common for any reference to Godzilla movies to have an element of ridicule to them, focusing on poorly synced dubbing, rubber suits and painfully obvious strings.

True as this may be, it is a cynicism that misses the point. For Godzilla, greatest of the daikaiju or 'giant monsters' still endures, an iconic and even heroic figure in our consciousness.

Perhaps it is because the movies do so many things poorly it is difficult to establish what they do well.

First introduced to the world in Ishiro Honda's classic 'Godzilla' in 1954 Godzilla is a massive, unstoppable city destroying menace, born of man's nuclear folly. Less than a decade after nuclear bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Godzilla can be seen more succinctly as a morality play and an expression of post nuclear angst rather than the more facile interpretation of nothing more than a giant monster running amok.

As much as this more serious historical context of Godzilla's creation is often glossed over or missed altogether, it is true that the role and purpose of Godzilla evolves, going from being a purely destructive force, to a heroic one. Most specifically a hero to children.

As much as youth can be a time of simple pleasures and few responsibilities, it is also a time spent all but powerless in a world of adults. Perhaps Godzilla, as both a destructive force, and as a friend of children creates an appeal rooted in the unfulfilled desire of children to be able to exert their will.

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It is in view of this progression of the Godzilla persona that due credit must be given to the excellent acting done in the movies. This sort of statement may cause a bit of a surprise reaction, as the Godzilla movies have been anything but famous for their acting, however a strong case can be made for Haruo Nakajima, the man in the suit.

More than simply 'some guy they stuffed in a rubber suit', Nakajima was and is considered a master 'suit actor' and from 1954 up until he retired in 1972, he was Godzilla.

With no dialogue, unable to show any facial expressions and inside a suffocating , awkward and heavy suit, Nakajima is still able to imbue the character with a distinct and consistent persona.

To put this in perspective, consider another iconic suit character in Darth Vader, and how much the character relies on the voice talents of James Earl Jones to fully convey Vader to the viewer.

In fact, it may be difficult to think of more iconic and identifiable suit characters that Nakajima's Godzilla, that is well known to North American audiences other than perhaps Sesame Street's Big Bird, and even then dialogue is used to convey the persona of the character.

This may very well be what the 1998 American remake got so incredibly and comepletely wrong.

Their hubris was that they thought that Godzilla was about a big giant monster running around and knocking things over, and that by portraying that with a higher level of sophistication, replacing old rubber suits with modern day special effects and CGI, that they would have a winner.

Instead, they missed the point, as well as the persona of Godzilla and gave the world a mostly forgotten forgery devoid of any charm or magic.

Despite whatever other spectacle it might have delivered on, it failed to deliver on it's main promise, and that is Godzilla.

Instead they gave us a giant lizard running around breaking things.

Godzilla, is much more than that.

Godzilla is king of the monsters.





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Comments 15 comments

Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

You've broken this down perfectly DDS. I can remember as a little boy having to sit in the aisle to watch these magical movies. Film makers that think CGI can recapture those feelings alone are sadly mis-taken. Superior article on subject.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 5 years ago

I love all the monsters of film!


TamCor profile image

TamCor 5 years ago from Ohio

We bought the whole series of movies for our youngest son about 15 years ago, when he was a little guy. He absolutely loved Godzilla, and the rest of us became fans, too, after watching the movies so many times, lol...

This was a very insightful hub, too--I found it really interesting...thank you! :)


DDS profile image

DDS 5 years ago from Toronto Author

@ Alstar: Thank you!

@Bp: they must be coming out of the ocean because people have been cooking up your recipes!

@TamCor: Now that is what I call good taste and good parenting! Just added myself amongst your followers!

Thanks again! The kind words are very appreciated. Please like, tweet share and all that jazz! :-)


Mammas7 profile image

Mammas7 5 years ago from Office

I LOVE Godzilla and still watch some old VHS movies...ha,ha,ha. Thanks for a great hub!


DDS profile image

DDS 5 years ago from Toronto Author

Glads you liked it Mammas7! I agree, Godzilla is quite awesome!!


DDS profile image

DDS 5 years ago from Toronto Author

I added a poll at the end so all of us Godzilla lovers can stand up and be counted!

Rawwwr!!


weseppers profile image

weseppers 5 years ago

It is looks like scary but that monster many people love it.

Great Hub.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 5 years ago from New York

Your interpretation actually touches the heart. When one thinks of the devastation and suffering caused by the bombs it puts Godzilla in a totally new perspective. Being of a slightly older generation, I took my younger brother to see every Godzilla movie. He absolutely loved Godzilla. I was a 'cool' teenager so couldn't admit, in 1954, it wasn't that horrible of a film.


DDS profile image

DDS 5 years ago from Toronto Author

@tillsontitan: Thank you! What a nice message! :-) Nice of you to take your younger brother!


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 5 years ago from California

I'll vote for King Kong as being king of the monsters, but Godzilla certainly has legions of fans. I remember being terrified when I saw the first movie, made in black and white and mostly shot at night, which helped mask the cheap special effects. "Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" it wasn't, but I got a kick out of it nevertheless. Also, I find it interesting that Godzilla eventually became a hero. Later!


feenix profile image

feenix 5 years ago

DDS,

I was 8 years old when the original "Godzilla" film came out and my sister and I saw it at the old Lincoln Theater in Los Angeles.

And when "Godzilla" was killed at the end of the movie, both my sister and I cried.


Memories1932 5 years ago

My son was a big fan of Godzilla when he was a little boy, in fact he still is a big Godzilla fan. I remember that the Godzilla movies always came on very late at night but he always made sure he got to watch them.


Xenonlit profile image

Xenonlit 5 years ago

Godzilla is the grandfather of monsters. I also loved "Cloverfield" because of the giant monster mystique.


Mark Alan Brady 4 years ago

What of a movie with both Godzilla and Gamera in it. Not necessarily vs each other but why do you have to say either way? No goofy robots or techno-crap either -maybe a few surprise monsters as well My favorite is King Ghidorah-more scarry and less goofy-stupid more amazing and wonderous and not farcical please!

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