Godzilla: Monster, Hero, Entertainer
Everyone's Favorite Monster - Godzilla
Everybody knows Godzilla and if you know him, you love him. How can you not? He's either stomping and destroying a city or he's saving it from some other mythical monster. Always, he's entertaining.
When I embarked on this hub, I wasn't sure what I would find for research. Turns out that our favorite monster has had quite a busy life.
Humble, Prehistoric Beginnings for the Gojira Family
Godzilla's Japanese name is Gojira. The Gojiras are an old family who's history goes back seventy million years. There is speculation that they came from a dinosaur species called, Gojirasaurus (some use the term, Godzillasaurus). Think T-Rex come amphibian with a dose of built-in high heat and radiation protection. This mutation was very handy for Godzilla's prehistoric relatives to swim between islands in the South Pacific to hunt for food, even in volcanic regions.
So time goes on, the Gojirasauruses live pretty peacefully while the earth evolves. Then trouble strikes! Humans are on the scene and they're up to no good. There is conflict and fighting.
During the second world war, all but one of the Gojiras were killed in an allied attack. You guessed it - Godzilla was the survivor. Luckily, the Gojirasaurus had the ability to lay dormant for extended periods of time. So, although injured, Godzilla was able to cling to life and rest as long as he needed in order to recouperate on a remote island, probably Lagos.
It was a sad and lonely time for our Godzilla who, now on his own, had to live a solitary life. To add insult to injury, he was the victim of a heavy-duty dose of radiation from post-war nuclear testing. Already having a physiology that was steeped in radiation, he began to change and grow very quickly until he mutated into the monster we all know and love today. And while he had no way of knowing it at the time, all of Godzilla's early challenges equipped him with what he'd need to become an international film star.
Baby Zilla's Birth Stats - Post WWII
Godzilla 1954 - Man About Town
Gojira (ゴジラ, Gojira) is a combination of two Japanese words: gorira (ゴリラ, lit. "gorilla") and kujira (鯨 (くじら), lit. "whale"). At one planning stage, Godzilla was described as "a cross between a gorilla and a whale," alluding to his size, power and aquatic origin. A popular story is that "Gojira" was actually the nickname of a hulking stagehand at Toho Studios. The story has not been verified, however, because in the more than 50 years since the film's original release, no one claiming to be the employee has ever stepped forward, and no photographs of him have ever surfaced.
Answers.com - Who2 Biography: Godzilla, Movie Monster
A Monster Star is Born!
Civilzation had completely changed Godzilla's existence. No more peaceful hunts, as his natural habitat was pretty much gone. He had to eat and so engaged in a string of menial jobs to support himself. They never lasted long, though. As soon as co-workers started dieing from exposure to Godzilla's radioactive presence, he would get fired and sent packing without a reference. The monster was very unhappy but times were tough and he was bored and lonely with just lying dormant all the time. Godzilla longed for more. He dreamed of an acting career.
Godzilla's Big Break
It was 1954 when Toho movie studios in Japan were casting for the film, Gojira. Writer/director Ishirô Honda was looking for someone to play the leading role - a huge, unstoppable, dinosaur type capable of gobbling up fishing vessels and stomping cities. Godzilla was perfect for the part.
Being the film's antagonist put Godzilla in a position to act out his anger and frustration while getting paid for it. True, it was a low budget picture but he didn't need that much money. After all, he lived in the ocean for free and ate quite a bit of fish while he was there. Really, he needed enough for a few extras and when the fish weren't that plentiful.
Once released, the movie and it's star anti-hero were a big hit with the Japanese public, then in the U.S. Typically, Japanese made Godzilla flicks hit North America one to five years after they are released at home.
Godzilla's Career Takes Off
After three more movies where he was the sole lead bad guy, the studio decided to shake things up a bit and started adding characters to the Godzilla scripts. This put a new spin on the big G's reputation. Monsters like King Kong, Destoroyah and Mothra started appearing on screen as Godzilla's nemisis. Yes, Godzilla had become the good guy. Oh, he still stomped the odd building while making his way clumsily into the city to do battle, but basically, he had started wearing the white hat. He was now the hero.
GODZILLA - GOJIRA (1954)
Godzilla - Hero, Entertainer
Over the years, Godzilla has starred in twenty eight movies and battled one hundred and seventy five bad monster dudes. His appearance has undergone eight changes including a substantial increase in size, yet his basic image remains unchanged.
His flaming spit is something that has remained constant throughout his career. The irradiation and mutation that he suffered during the war left Godzilla with atomic breath. Not halitosis, exactly, rather an ability to blast his enemy with super hot, fiery radiation just by exhaling. You knew when he was going to blow by watching his dorsal plates, which would start glowing just before it was about to happen. It didn't make him popular with the ladies but it helped his screen image and got him plenty of work.
If Big G got injured on the job, there was nothing to worry about, he was a super-fast healer. Injury was unlikely anyway, as his hide was tough and he was dextrous and fit. Godzilla had a natural knowledge of the martial arts, which he used when necessary while battling a foe, so he managed to stay in shape, despite his hectic schedule.
Godzilla Father & Son Video Commercial
Godzilla Family Life
While doing the research for this article, I came across one site that suggested there may have been another surviving Gojira. I did not find evidence of this elsewhere, yet Godzilla did have a son who was introduced in the 1967 movie, Son of Godzilla. The mother's whereabouts remain unknown. Since a female Godzilla living incognito for that long is unlikely, I think that there's a possibility that the union may have been a cross-species affair.
Zilla (my name for Godzilla) was filming on Sollgell Island, just going through the motions, doing the usual stuff - stomping a weather station, killing a couple of giant preying mantises - when all of a sudden, the scientists unearthed an egg. Well, wouldn't you know it, the egg hatches right then and there to reveal...a baby Godzilla. Zilla spotted the baby and immediately took him under his wing to raise as his own. The baby, for which I found about three different names, grew very quickly and was soon half as big as his dad.
The proud pappa was thrilled and very responsible. He rushed in to protect and take care of his baby, eagerly teaching him everything a young Godzilla needs to know if he's going to make his way in the world.
Roaring lessons went well but baby was challenged when it came to using his atomic breath. The wise father discovered that he could help his little one overcome the problem by stomping on the baby's tail. That had little G breathing fire easily, which is good because he needed it to help his dad spit fire at a giant spider.
Time went by, as it does and Little G followed his father's footsteps of film star, although he only made a few movies before I lost track of what happened to him. I have no doubt there are Godzilla buffs out there that know. If they happen to honour my little hub with a visit, I'd love for them to leave the details in a comment.
Godzilla went on to 'adopt' two more sons, both of which played roles in his movies.
*** If you watch the father and son video, you will see just how cute! baby Godzilla was. The scene of him blowing smoke rings and needing his dad to step on his tail is included.
The Future of Godzilla
It is being rumoured that there will be another movie in 2013 or 2014. While I'm curious about the plotline, I also wonder what the new, modernized Godzilla will look like, what changes they may make to this iconic monster.
Regardless of how they treat the story or his overall appearance, he will always be Godzilla: Monster, Hero, Entertainer.
© 2009 Shirley Anderson