Final Day! Thursday, April 24
GODZILLA: THE JAPANESE ORIGINAL
$7.50 Member $13.00 Regular
Directed by ISHIRO HONDA
60TH ANNIVERSARY RESTORATION
(1954) On a sunny day with calm waters, a Japanese steamer sinks in flames when the sea erupts; a salvage vessel sent to the rescue disappears the same way; exhausted, incoherent survivors babble of a monster. Could it be...? Then the biggest-budgeted film in Japanese history, the original Godzilla spawned 60 years of sequels and remakes, countless rip-offs, and a new genre: the kaiju eiga, or Japanese monster movie. Released in the U.S. in a butchered version called Godzilla: King of the Monsters, it was re-cut, re-arranged and atrociously dubbed, with cheesy new scenes (shot in Hollywood) of a pre-Perry Mason Raymond Burr observing the action from the sidelines. To make room for Burr and to excise a strong anti-nuclear subtext, King of the Monsters deleted 40 minutes of the Japanese version — its very heart — including the opening credits and ominous main theme by the great Akira Ifukube; Tokyo commuters wisecracking about surviving yet another disaster; a vituperative session in the Japanese parliament; a TV announcer’s hilarious stomp-by-stomp account of the monster’s rampage; the original cautionary ending; and more scenes with the real (human) star of the movie, Takashi Shimura (also the Seven Samurai leader that year). A tour de force by special effects genius Eiji Tsuburaya, whose use of “suitmation,” the often-belittled “man in a monster suit” method, was due to time and budget restraints. But, in concert with noirish cinematography, this low-tech approach is still as thrilling as ever. Subtitles by Bruce Goldstein and Michie Yamakawa. Approx. 96 min. DCP restoration.
A RIALTO PICTURES RELEASE
Godzilla®, Gojira and the character design are trademarks of Toho Co., Ltd. ©1954 Toho Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
#1 CRITICS' PICK!
"The grandaddy of Japanese monster movies returns in a 60th anniversary restoration that will knock you back like its title character's nuclear breath!."
– Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York
"PICK OF THE WEEK! There's a new Hollywood Godzilla on the way, but Honda's brooding 1954 masterpiece can't be topped! It's a gripping war film that depicts shocking carnage and destruction, and a social melodrama rooted in the anxious and doom-haunted quality of postwar Japanese life. Its black-and-white cinematography by Masao Tamai is varied, careful and sometimes spectacular. A one-of-a-kind experience all the way through, one that stands the test of time."
– Andrew O'Hehir, Salon
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“STILL THE MOST AWESOME! POP CULTURE’S GRANDEST SYMBOL OF NUCLEAR APOCALYPSE!”
– Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
“MAGNIFICENT! VISIONARY! THE GREAT POST-WORLD WAR II MOVIE MONSTER! Belongs with — and might well trump — the art films Hiroshima, Mon Amour and Dr. Strangelove as a daring attempt to fashion a terrible poetry from the mindmelting horror of atomic warfare.”
– J. Hoberman, Village Voice
"Fifty years of sequels, tag-team monster mash-ups, and shitty Hollywood remakes have not blunted the sheer cinematographic force, let alone metaphorical heft, of Ishirô Honda's Godzilla. Rarely has the open wound of widespread devastation been transposed to celluloid with greater visceral impact."
– Budd Wilkins, Slant
"Campy and underbaked in almost every way to 2014 eyes, suitimation, the use of miniatures and mattes, and intricate sound effects – most notably Godzilla’s still-terrifying roar – were groundbreaking in almost every respect. Probably the most awesome use of a man in a rubber suit… ever."
– Jeff Slate, Esquire
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"Sad and stately are probably not the words that come to mind when you think of Godzilla. But the Japanese original, restored for its 60th anniversary and playing at Film Forum, should make you think again. The American version, Godzilla: King of the Monsters!, released in 1956, was chopped up, rearranged, dubbed and fitted out with new footage with Raymond Burr. The original, a disaster movie and cautionary tale, feels like a different animal, or monster, altogether."
– Rachel Saltz, The New York Times
"In an era when Hollywood considers destroying whole cities obligatory for blockbusters, it's refreshing to recall a time when such fantastical demolition had a poignant significance. You can feel it in Godzila… a pathos that too few of the film's influences fail to capture."
– Zachary Wigon, Village Voice
“Smashing in every sense of the word! Time has not diminished its tabloid docu-horror allure... Honda ladles out dollops of crude pop poetry, whether in his medieval mode (smoky tableaux of a remote Japanese island) or his futuristic one (an oxygen-depleting chemical sending fish skeletons plummeting to the bottom of a tank).”
– Michael Sragow, The New Yorker
“The comic book premise is never allowed to overwhelm the director’s clear intention — to measure the aftershocks of the nuclear obliteration, nine years earlier, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki... Its significance can be glimpsed only in the Japanese version.”
– Terrence Rafferty, The New York Times