Saturday, June 26, 2004

Gojira!

Last night, we went to see the restored version of Godzilla at the Oak St. Cinema. Wow. That's one heavy movie. Seriously.

The first reaction, of course, is to laugh at the preposterous special effects (I mean, the guy-in-a-rubber-suit-stomping-on-a-model-of-Tokyo has sort of ascended to iconic status, but there are a lot of other scenes where toy ships are sinking in water with bubbles as large as the ship, or toy jet fighters tootle around with wires clearly visible), and the people I was with did a lot of that. But I don't know, maybe it's because I read so many comics, I ended taking the movie at face value. And if you take Godzilla straight, and think about the recent history of Japan in 1954, it turns into a pretty hardcore movie.

I mean, imagine Hollywood producing a movie in 2010 wherein Osama Bin Laden summons a gigantic demon that proceeds to kick the shit out of New York City for about a third of the movie. Even if Ben Affleck did figure out a way to stop it in the third act, that still would be a pretty impressive act of cultural scab-picking. I suppose on one level, Godzilla is kind of a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the Japanese: they're getting devastated by the consequences of the American nuclear program again, but this time Japanese ingenuity could do something about it.

I was also impressed by the parallel they set up between the creation of the Oxygen Destroyer weapon (I'm assuming the name sounds cooler in Japanese) and the real-life Manhattan project. In the movie, Dr. Sarizawa (I think) is just looking to do basic research, stumbles across a potentially unlimited source of power, and shits himself when he realizes that it could be turned into a devastating weapon. Sounds awfully similar to all of the neutron-bombardment going on in the 30s. And like Fermi and the real-world Manhattan engineers, Sarizawa resists weaponization until he sees that the threat of Godzilla (which is scarier- a 150-ft. radiation-breathing lizard, or a Nazi A-bomb program? Search me) is so grave that he doesn't have any choice. So he goes public, hating himself for it.

Did you catch that? In a weird way, Sarizawa is written to be an acceptance that the people in the American bomb program did what they thought they had to. And this movie came out 9 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Holy shit.

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