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Son of Godzilla

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Son of GodzillaThe Japanese film, "Son of Godzilla", was released to theatres in 1967. Directed by Jun Fukuda, the film served as a representation of the transition that the "Godzilla" series made. Producers wanted to make the "Godzilla" films more appealing to children. In order to do so, the creators had to change the look and demeanor of Godzilla. When watching the various films, it becomes obvious that Godzilla went from looking menacing and scary, to happier, and even fatherly, as in the film, "Son of Godzilla", where the monster is seen dancing and happily trying to teach his son how to breathe fire.

Director Jun Fukuda spent his childhood days in Korea. It wasn't until after his high school graduation in 1941 that Fukuda moved to Japan. Once settled in Japan, Fukuda enrolled in the Art Department at Nippon University. The director's academic career was soon interrupted, however, due to the fact that he was drafted into the army to fight in World War II. Following his return from the war, Fukuda decided to indulge in his passion for movies. In 1951, he attained a position as an Assistant Director at Toho, where he had the opportunity to work alongside some of the most popular directors of the time, including Ishiro Honda. In 1959, Fukuda became a full blown director, working on his own films. Many of his films include advanced special effects for the time, something that Fukuda learned while working with Honda. Fukuda took over directing the science fiction/Godzilla movies when Honda decided that he didn't want to direct them anymore. Unfortunately, because of this, Fukuda was always under-appreciated, and never really had the opportunity to direct in the genre that he preferred, crime drama. Fukuda eventually gave up science fiction altogether, and turned to documentaries. From 1978-1980, Fukuda contributed to the popular television show, "Saiyuki", which is known by Western audiences as "Monkey". The director died in 2000 from lung cancer.

Though there are many characters in Fukuda's "Son of Godzilla", there are just a couple who were widely celebrated for their acting abilities. Akihiko Hirata, who played the role of Fujisaki, is one of these actors. Hirata's formal education began in a kindergarten that was founded by the wartime-era Japanese Imperial Army. His education continued in Military Academy, which was Tokyo's answer to America's West Point. Hirata then went on to graduate from Japan's most prestigious university, Tokyo University. Hirata's first film roles were in the 1953 films, "Even the Mighty Shed Tears", and "Embrace". These roles brought him to the attention of legendary director, Ishiro Honda, who promptly cast Hirata in his 1954 WWII romance, "Farewell Rabaul". That same year, Honda cast Hirata as the tormented, one-eyed scientist, Daisuke Serizawa, in the film, "Gojira". It was this film that defined Hirata's career. Due to his popularity with the directors, Hirata went on to appear in six "Gojira" sequels. Hirata was loved by both directors and actors alike, and was viewed as a highly intellectual, but never pretentious, individual who was honest and humorous. The actor appeared in every kind of movie that Toho studios made, from monster pictures to samurai dramas. Hirata was the only actor to appear in the "debut" efforts of "Godzilla", "Rodan", "Mothra", and "Ghidorah".

Yoshio Tsuchiya, who plays the role of Furukawa, is the other celebrated actor in the film. Tsuchiya grew up in his ancestral home in the countryside of Japan. He went on to study to be a doctor, and graduated from medical school, but felt drawn to acting. After completing medical school, Tsuchiya joined the highly regarded Hayuza theatre group. As he began his career in acting, Tsuchiya intended to only do stage acting. However, he was persuaded by director Akira Kurosawa to audition for the director's 1952 film, "Seven Samurai". Tsuchiya landed the role and because of his performance, went on to become an actor that was wanted in a variety of films. An avid UFO buff, Tsuchiya played the role of the Mysterian commander in the Science Fiction film, "Earth Defense Force", which was released in 1957. Tsuchiya retired from film in 1970 to return to his first love, the stage. He has since become a noted essayist on subjects ranging from his work with Akira Kurosawa to his interest in UFOs. Though busy with writing and working for an occasional film, Tsuchiya makes time to do at least one stage tour every year.

Norihiko Fukuta
Meteorologist Norihiko Fukuta of the University of Utah discusses weather modification and the film “Son Of Godzilla.”

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