VIDEO: Godzilla (1954)

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In this kaiju-sized episode of the DVD Shelf Movie Reviews, we delve deep into the creation of one of the most famous giant monsters in movie history, Godzilla! Born out of World War II’s impact on Japan, Godzilla has gone on to star in nearly thirty movies over the years, but none are as dark, ominous, and captivating as the original 1954 black-and-white film that started it all. This episode fully explores the origin of the movie, and the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release with its hearty helping of special features.

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  • Zorha

    <3 me some kaiju.

  • You have outdone yourself again, Dave!

    My first experience with Godzilla came with the shoddy remake in the 90s’. Oddly enough, I was more forgiving of it because of my dad’s cameo (he worked in the city). There was also the marathon on television showing all the original Toho Godzilla movies and it was there I was interested with the lighter portrayal of the character. Strange as it seems, I never considered myself a huge Godzilla fan even though I own “Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla” and “Godzilla vs. King Ghidora.”

    Oh, and I didn’t know if you knew that Bikini Atoll was the real life location confirmed for “Bikini Bottom” for Spongebob Squarepants… though I think it would have come across as awkward to have that included with the Lucky Dragon incident 😛

  • Informative as usual Dave and those little bookends are a nice bonus too. This upcoming remake would be epic if there was a scene between Godzilla and Mr White.
    “You know who I am?”
    *Godzilla roar*
    “You’re god-damn right!”
    On the other hand, let’s hope it gives a fair enough treatment to the original as we can’t always expect remakes to be completely faithful to the source material, especially with the amount of liberties taken now.

  • When I see someone reviewing one of my favorite films, my general response is “I’m not going to learn anything new, but it’ll be fun to watch anyway”. You went ahead and proved me wrong, and in the process, probably earned a lifelong fan of your show. Just don’t think that Ghostbusters line was subtle or unpredictable or anything.

  • $36060516

    Having just finished editing my first video, gotta admire the work put into this. First review I’ve seen that’s only 15 minutes shorter than the film being reviewed (and not for lack of editing — have seen some long reviews which were just stream-of-consciousness rambling, but not here)!

  • MephLord

    I was blown away watching the original movie. The human stories were exceptionally tragic during the whole time, and the effects still hold up. It still remains my favorite Godzilla movie of all time. I wonder though if the movie were coloured if it would have the same effect?

    Also a Great Big Sea song always makes me smile. Newfoundland bands make me wonder why we let them into the Dominion of Canada in 1949.

  • Jack Shen

    Prolly the best video on the Godzilla DVD that exists.

  • Extremely extensive stuff, Mr. Rose. Well done.

  • Awesome work man.

  • Bob_in_Baltimore

    Wow. I thought your Ed Wood review was thorough, but this sets the bar even higher. I finally saw the original Godzilla about a year ago, and I was also really impressed by the human focus and very serious tone. Two scenes especially struck me:

    1. During Godzilla’s first attack on Tokyo, there’s a short scene of a woman cowering with her two children as the building is collapsing around them and she realizes they’re trapped. She reassures them, “Don’t worry, we’ll be with Daddy again soon.” Which sounds fine, until you realize what she really means- Daddy is dead (probably in the war) and they will be joining him in the afterlife.

    2. As you mentioned, there’s a scene after the attack where we see TV coverage that includes a children’s choir, singing in memory of all the people who died. That’s a surprising thing to include in a monster movie, but it really rang true to me because of some real-life parallels. Just four days after the 9/11 attacks, the BBC Orchestra made a last-minute change to their scheduled concert, in order to present a tribute to the victims with Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”:

    And this seriousness of tone, and focus on the victims of the attack, that makes the original Godzilla so effective is also a reason why I liked Cloverfield more than many others did. And just as Godzilla drew some pretty direct parallels to the devastation of WWII and the atomic bomb, Cloverfield had some very direct references to 9/11 (I’m thinking especially of the scenes of panicked crowds running down New York City streets ahead of a cloud of smoke and debris). Anyway, thanks again for this review, I really don’t know how you can top this.

  • Thomas Stockel

    I finally sat my ass down to watch this, and I have to say Dave it was amazing! I knew only a fraction of the facts you presented and I was highly informed and entertained.

    I saw the second Godzilla movie on Hulu and yeah, it’s terrible. At the other end of the spectrum, Final Wars is awesome! I think they managed to fit in every single Godzilla monster ever in one way, shape or form, from the giant praying mantises to the smog monster.