Monday, August 25, 2014

The Litany of Godzilla: Parting Remarks

Click here to go back to the last hurrah.


That was quite a bit longer than initially intended.

I had written paragraph long summaries of the Heisei and Millennium series years ago for some interested friends.  I figured I would watch the Showa Series to jar my memory and end up with four MAAAAAYBE five posts total when all was said and done (and watched). 

Yes, I know, once again I forgot how much I liked something, and turned a cute idea into an insanely long project.

I’m sure everyone has their shocked face on.

This one went above and beyond even for me though.  In order to generate four months worth of posts, at around 45,000 words total, something had to be at work greater than, “I really like Godzilla movies.”

The unbridled joy that I used to feel as a kid when Godzilla Week hit on the 4:30 movie, or when I’d take out my Legos for a marathon building session while watching the Toho films for the entire day after Thanksgiving came back full force as I started going through them again.

The Heisei series are probably the most well made, and have the greatest depth and layers to them.  However, I still love the old goofy classic, or the higher tech but equally loopy post Godzilla 1998 ones just as much.   Sharing them with my family now makes it that much better.

The differences in tone, production values, and personality of the main character vary wildly from outing to outing, yet there are areas of similarity that wind through all versions.

Plucky reporters are invariably on the side of right and good.  There’s something about the importance of freedom of the press embedded in these silly movies.

Romance NEVER comes to the forefront. Characters specifically identified as in relationships show almost no outward signs of affection toward each other. It’s odd, and somewhat refreshing, in a world where every story is based around relationships and sex.  The closest I can think of to this is in classic westerns, and it’s not to this level.  Though the Lone Ranger wasn’t allowed any relationships, other characters occasionally hit it off.  Sidelong glances and, in the extreme, holding hands is about all that ever happens in Toho’s Kaiju films.  Leave it to American, Nick Adams, to be the exception, but even his amorous adventures with Miss Namikawa were mostly off screen.

Sibling bonds are also always strong and key connections between characters.  Other family dynamics come in to play as well.  These, and many other elements, are cultural influences shining through what could easily be a mindless monster movie.

Just like The Doctor can only be British in my estimation, only Japan can produce a proper Godzilla movie.  We tried, and forgot to put Godzilla in the Godzilla movie two different ways.  The Doctor’s homeland tried once too and failed.  Gorgo anyone?

That’s another important point.  The tone varied, from tragic to comic.  The budgets shrank and grew randomly as time passed.  The series focus and protagonist changed drastically over time. The Showa started as disaster movies, transitioned through science fiction and evolved into superhero films.  The Heisei were all tightly connected together, and done with a higher budget and a respectful tone.  The Millennium Series threw giant pots of crazy at the wall and watched to see what stuck.

For all those differences, however, even the lowest budgeted entries, or the goofiest of concepts had at least a few original scenes of exquisitely detailed miniatures, and all had an orchestral score, both of which were linked to the land the films were made in.

They also all had a guy in a suit stomping around on those miniatures while that music played.  Godzilla varied from lighter greys with green highlights to almost black.  He’s looked lizard like, ape like, Japanese mythological-like and Muppet like.  He’s been lumpy, pointy, heroic, destructive, evil, nurturing, and a force of nature.  His breath has gone from a smoky mist that starts small fires to an atomic death ray that vaporizes anything in its path.

But one thing has been constant about those guys in the suit. 
They’re acting in the role of the most awesome giant radioactive mutant dinosaur ever conceived.

Um…I don’t think I have a real point to any of this.

I guess that was all there is to it:

“I really like Godzilla movies!”

Thank you for letting me share them with you.

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