THE INHERENT POWER OF GENRE - PT. 5
THE INHERENT POWER OF GENRE Series:
*(MARCH, 2016) "BATMAN v SUPERMAN" / "MARVEL v D.C." - AND WHY D.C.'s ON THE RIGHT TRACK
*(MAY, 2014) INHERENT POWER OF GENRE - PT 5: "GOJIRA" / "GODZILLA" HOWEVER PRONOUNCED, HE'S KING!
*(DEC. 2011 / JAN. 2012) INHERENT POWER OF GENRE - PT.4: BOOMER ANGST AND THE 1970s
*(OCT. 2011 / Revised - JULY 2014) INHERENT POWER OF GENRE - PT.3: HISTORY OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
*(JULY / AUG. 2011) INHERENT POWER OF GENRE - PT.2: TV AND THE 1960s, "TWILIGHT ZONE" & "STAR TREK"
*(MAY, 2011) INHERENT POWER OF GENRE - PT.1: COLD WAR AND THE 1950s
“PO-TA-TO” / “PO-TAH-TO”; … “GOJIRA” (ゴジラ) … “GODZILLA”:
REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU PRONOUNCE IT
HE‘LL ALWAYS BE KING!
you always wanted to know about the history of GODZILLA but were afraid
for fear of being thought of as “un-cool” or being blasted by his
* Includes the NO SPOILERS review “GODZILLA (2014): TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING” (page 2)
A couple of weeks ago the very talented writer, and just plain effervescent human being, Cindy Falteich (who, by the way, will be hosting one of our upcoming GullCottage online TV network shows), apparently taken by the combined in-depth knowledge of genre film history of myself and Mr. Steve Vertlieb - the subject of my feature length documentary STEVE VERTLIEB: THE MAN WHO “SAVED” THE MOVIES, floated the notion of perhaps taking in Gareth Edwards’ upcoming big screen reboot of GODZILLA with a group of film students; then later, over coffee, breaking down the cinematic history of everyone’s favorite “King of the Monsters”.
The impetus of this idea was that while many of our upcoming younger generation of movie makers may have knowledge of the fact that the films of say Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Guillermo del Toro are peppered with many genre-favored slants, they may not necessarily be personally aware of specific ones or from whence these often quick-witted (mostly hidden) cinematic “Easter Egg” homages originate.
I was at first kind of taken aback by Cindy’s suggestion because, as I mentioned to her, “I don’t think I can recall hearing the phrases ‘Godzilla movie’ and ‘discuss it over coffee afterwards’ ever used in the same sentence together”. The films of Akira Kurosawa? - yeah, those are the ones scholars and historians “discuss”. Oh, and by the way - did you know that both the films of Kurosawa and the Godzilla series featured much of the same production personnel and were even produced by the same studio? More on that in a bit. But Godzilla? Godzilla is for the most part a “born out of fond remembrances of childhood” thing. Maybe this will nail it.
Does anyone else remember how years ago soda used to come in glass bottles? And not just your “drop from the machine” 20 oz. bottles, but those big-assed 2 liter ones? Well, I remember me and friends getting those damned heavy things from the supermarket just so that we could toss them into the air and hear that awesomely cool muffled “Kabloom-ushhh!” as they shattered on the parking lot asphalt. Yeah, I know! Sue me! Anyway, years later I’d experience the same adolescent school boy thrill (and laugh my ass off) watching David Lettermen drop watermelons to the street from atop the roof of the Ed Sullivan theater.
A certain particular joy and charm in the original Godzilla films (as well as
later comics, animated series, remakes, reboots and more) is quite simply a big
kid’s fascination with … well, … just “blowin’ shit up!”. So, to a
certain degree, the first and most important thing to remember in
“discussing” Godzilla is to not make that common cineaste mistake and take things too seriously. Not to
analyze too much, for in so doing one can dissect the very lifeblood out
of that elusive magic which makes the character perhaps arguably THE
most popular monster in movie history.
Thinking a little more about Cindy’s idea however, I had to admit there
was “something more” to the Godzilla fad / mythos than just a 12 year
old’s undying fascination with watching tanks and fighter jets melted
with radioactive breath. After all, how (and why) would the ENTIRE
WORLD have the same undying 12 year old’s fascination with (admit it)
not only the most beloved, but also one of the most consistently
cheesily realized creatures in movie lore? By all rights bad special FX
alone should have years ago relegated the original Godzilla films
(approx. 27 in number!) to that cinematic landfill parceling out real
estate to such legendary howlers as THE FOOD OF THE GODS, NIGHT OF THE
LEPUS and TROG. And what about recent films such as Michael Bay’s
TRANSFORMER series - born of the same “tokusatu” origins as Godzilla?
As entertaining as they are in their multi-million dollar mission to
“blow shit up” with grand scale grandeur (and a refreshing sense of
humor), it’s a pretty safe bet to say 55 years from now they won’t hold
the same unshakable fascination for generations of audiences as Godzilla
is more than likely to still have.
So yeah, Cindy - you
got me on this. Godzilla SHOULD be discussed. So, popping on David
Arnold’s Ifukube-inspired soundtrack to Roland Emmerich’s 1998 version
- yeah, the one with Matthew Broderick which everyone hates (and which
we’ll piss people off later by claiming isn’t at all the dog many like
to claim), we’re gonna do a little “primer” thing here in an attempt to
hone in on just why Godzilla, … Gojira, … “Monster Zero-One” … whatever
you like to call him (or “her” if you’ve seen the Emmerich version)
remains “the Once and Future King”
GODZILLA (2014) - Theatrical Trailer #2 (U.K.)