Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
This 1956 re-cut of “Gojira” (1954), introduced the famous kaiju to an American audience by adding the character of Western journalist Steve Martin, played by Raymond Burr. In this version, Martin is visiting Japan when the colossal lizard razes Tokyo, and he reports on the destruction. Dr. Serizawa, who has created the only device that can destroy Godzilla, is presented as Martin’s college buddy. True to the original film, the research scientist Serizawa is entangled in ethical concerns and a love triangle. Can his fiancée and her new sweetie convince him to take the risk of unleashing his monstrous weapon?
Named for the “strange beasts” that are central to kaiju film plots, this genre combines inspiration from Japanese legend with distinctively atomic age concerns. In “Godzilla: King of the Monsters!” H-bomb testing is responsible for unleashing Godzilla, an ancient sea monster, on postwar Japan. Dr. Serizawa’s worry that his weapon may ultimately destroy more than it saves has a sharp edge when considered analogous to the decision to deploy nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki a mere decade before, and on the tragedy that befell the crew of the fishing boat, Lucky Dragon No. 5 in 1954.
Learn about the scientific testing that launched a film franchise.
Read one reviewer’s theory of why Godzilla’s size doubled since 1954.
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