When I was a child back in the nuclear-anxiety-Cold-War 1950s I went to see a film called Godzilla, King of the Monsters. I probably noticed that the people on screen didn’t look like Americans. They looked – well, I don’t know what I would have called them then, but they were in fact Japanese, except for this reporter guy (Raymond Burr) who talked a lot. What I remember is being scared out of my wits by this HUGE monster that seemed determined to destroy the world.
What I didn’t know at the time – I suppose that almost no one in the American audience did – is that this was somewhat different from the Japanese original, which came out in Japan in 1954 as Gojira. The Japanese original has two interlinked storylines: the story about the monster from the sea and a story about love vs. arranged marriage, which grapples with tradition vs. change. That second one was dropped from the American re-edit; the idea of an arranged marriage was and is all but meaningless in America, though it remains alive in Japan and in other nations. With a sense of grave ritual that is missing from the Americanized version, the Japanese original is a richer film. Read more »