Whether he’s a lizard or a gorilla/whale combo (as his name suggests) or in fact a representation of the atom bomb, it’s fair to say Godzilla is a pretty big deal. Or wait, is he?
When you look at the history it seems as though Godzilla’s legend has been perpetuated by the West to a greater extent, rather than the East. This is why, perhaps, that America has chosen to remake the film, twice. So despite being one of cinema’s ‘biggest legend’, he/she/it is a western idea, representing the continuation of American fears of nuclear war and destruction as well as natural disasters such as hurricane Katrina.
On a recent trip to Tokyo, I visited the National Film Center and attended its permanent exhibition on the history of Japanese film. The show was pretty extensive charting Japan’s incredible cinematic history, and yet did not mention Godzilla at all. Now maybe people of Japan don’t want to be reminded about something that appears to represent such a painful part of their history. Or just maybe, Godzilla has now become a westernised fallacy representing their own fears, which is why it is far more popular there. In the 1950s the threat of nuclear war was phenomenally high. In America across the country children and adults were being taught what to do in case of a nuclear disaster. The figure of Godzilla is not important solely to Japan, it served as a world wide warning. America knew the consequences; they had been the ones to initiate destruction, and these fears that the monster represented were of equal importance to the west, in a time in which the Cold War was building and nuclear war seemed likely. These fears are still very much present today emphasising the importance of Gareth Edwards and the rest of the productions intentions for remaking this film – and making it now.
So it’s safe to say Godzilla is a legend. But nowadays, unfortunately like most of our culture, a western one.
*It will be interesting to see how the film does at the box office in Japan when it is released at the end of July