Godzilla Restored: Raymond Burr Surgically Removed!
Rob Levy
8/22/2004 7:05:21 PM

Itís not easy being the King of All Monsters. Itís a thankless gig. Armies, robot monsters, flying moths and weird mutants constantly attack you in an effort to usurp your power. Then those wacky Americans come along and make a silly Saturday morning cartoon followed by a terrible film about your life with the fellow from Ferris Bueller and muck up your street cred. Then of course, there are the cities. You just canít move through them, you have to go over them and that makes a mess.

Despite all the trials, tribulations, tussles and toxins, Japanís best fire breathing mutant monster, Godzilla, has turned 50. To celebrate this auspicious event, Rialto pictures have re-released the original Japanese version of Godzilla, showing all of us just what the King of All Monsters did when he was younger.

For fans of Godzilla, the release of Ishiro Hondaís original 1954 film has been long overdue. His movie is finally seeing the light of day in its purest form with its noir texture and dark atmosphere. Hondaís original cut conveyed the spirit and feel of the Japanese cultural psyche of the 1950s, one that encapsulates peace, ecology and Japanese folklore while underscoring political tenseness resulting from the atomic bombs and American occupation.

Technically this fresh, uncut version of Godzilla is a staggering improvement over the American version. This subtitled version omits Raymond Burrís narration, creating a darker and more apocalyptic film than the Westernized version fed to the American movie-goerís palate fifty years ago.

The plot is pretty simple. An undersea explosion awakens Godzilla, a sleeping monster (known in Japan as Gojira) with a fetish for breathing fire, crushing buildings and swatting planes like tiny gnats. Feeling incredibly perturbed and somewhat territorial, an enraged and ferocious Godzilla goes nuts, trashing, thrashing and demolishing everything in his path, but mostly the city of Tokyo.

Itís been a hard career for Godzilla. His 28 films have created a body of work that has created a rapid worldwide cult following, making him instantly recognizable alone or in crowds. Thankfully, this new version will set the record straight and establish him as more than just a hokey kitsch sub-cultural phenomenon.

In March, Japanís Toho Studios announced that they are resting Godzilla after the release of Godzilla: Final Wars. Final Wars pits Godzilla against ten different foes in a monstrous tour de force.


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