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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 9.33%
Average: 8%
Pretty Bad: 1.33%
Total Crap: 4%

4 reviews, 51 user ratings

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Godzilla (1954)
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by Steve in Prague

"A work of art that deserves to hang in the Louvre"
5 stars

This review is the original version WITHOUT Raymond Burr!!!

In 1954 the most expensive Japaneese movie (up to that time) was released: Gojira (Godzilla). Little did anyone know, Godzilla would become THE icon of Japan, spawning many many sequels, and becoming the third part of the "franchise" trinity of cinema (Godzilla, James Bond, Tarzan).

What sets the original 1954 Gojira apart from all its later efforts is simple: Its a re-telling of the Atomic attack on Japan, as embodied by Godzilla itself.

From the brilliant opening sequence, based on the real life experience of the trawler "Taihaiko Maru", which was bathed in radioactive fallout from Bikini Atoll, to the stunning musical score, to the scenes of devastation in Tokyo and the radiation burns on Godzilla's victims, this is NOT the Godzilla of the 60's or 70's.

Everything clicks. The cast, the editing, the score, the lighting, EVERYTHING. What makes this movie so special is that it is told in documentary style, as if a brave cameraman was following Godzilla on his path of destruction.

Many aspects of Japan's unique culture and traditions are throughout the film, and may be lost on many non-knowing Westerners. For example: In the final scene, take a look at the bandannas worn by Dr.Serizawa as he prepares to dive into Tokyo Bay in an attempt to kill Godzilla with the "Oxygen Destroyer". It is a kamikaze blossom bandanna, and its symbolism cannot be overlooked.

References are also made to Japan's war time alliance with Germany, and it is implied that Dr.Serizawa developed the "Oxygen Destroyer" (the main weapon used against Godzilla) with Nazi Germany. Serizawa denies it, but the look on his face and in his eyes betrays him, as does the shame he radiates when confronted with his "german friends".

On a side note, it should be mentioned that when Godzilla FINALLY is killed in 1998's "Godzilla vs Destroyah", the Oxygen Destroyer is once again used, this time inadvertently spawning Godzilla's largest foe to date.

It is next to impossible to see the original non-Raymond Burr version of Godzilla outside of Japan. You can order it online, or look for a serious art house retrospective on Japanese cinema, the original version is almost always included in any screenings of classic Japaneese cinema.

Remember, this isn't the Godzilla that Dean Develin raped, and its not the rubber suited comical Godzilla of the 1970's, this is a SERIOUS, dark, violent, chilling, and ultimately moving art film that set the standard.

"Gojira", "Ran", and "The Seven Samurai" make up the three greatest Japanese movies ever made.

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originally posted: 05/03/01 23:04:17
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.
Trilogy Starters: For more in the Trilogy Starters series, click here.

User Comments

5/11/19 PUMP UP THE JAM A Classic Kaiju film. 5 stars
9/14/12 CORDWAINER SMITH A forcible sci-fi message film of the 1950s. Excellent. 5 stars
4/17/12 keith miron I like the mean Godzilla 4 stars
11/06/10 Sugarfoot Who doesn't enjoy Godzilla movies a little? 4 stars
6/21/09 Brad Barrett well said Mark Radburn and Jordan! 5 stars
3/16/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Some images look as if they were lifted from the depths of hell. Scary. 5 stars
11/24/08 Craig D. Surprisingly excellent. It's good because it's good, not just because it's old. 5 stars
3/14/08 Wes He picks up a bus and he throws it back down! 5 stars
11/20/07 David Cohen Built on horror rather than camp charm, very effective 5 stars
6/06/07 Max Overrated, but good 4 stars
11/11/06 David Pollastrini classic 5 stars
9/14/06 Kyle Davis The Greatest of them all! Thumbs Up 5 stars
7/02/06 R.W.Welch Hokey but well plotted 50's pop classic. 4 stars
6/16/06 Mark Radburn Wake up Kcaj and Poopy Woopy you shit-heads, Godzilla rules and you two guys suck 5 stars
5/24/06 Kcaj A masterpiece of boring, stupid crap. 1 stars
4/22/06 Poopy Woopy ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!! 1 stars
12/24/05 Green Gremlin This sure beats the 1997 Matthew Broderick fiasco !!! 5 stars
11/05/05 Jordan Roger Ebert hates this film, burn in hell you fat bastard 5 stars
10/29/05 George Jobson Godzilla towers above all monsters 5 stars
9/26/05 Carolyn Rathburn Wonderful old movie. you just can't beat the classics 5 stars
9/17/05 Aaron Savage I LOVE THIS FILM!! 5 stars
8/15/05 cristeen69 Godzilla can't be beat even in this time a classic!! 5 stars
7/30/05 Josh A Highly watchable Monster Movie 5 stars
7/24/05 Ben Farmillo Godzilla is truly the Monster that never dies, King Kong doesn't exist 5 stars
7/12/05 Kieran Friend Godzilla is a Masterpiece, The Granddaddy of all monster movies 5 stars
7/03/05 Matt Sutton Godzilla, You 5 stars
5/23/05 Luke BlackAdder Godzilla is a classic, King Kong is no fun 5 stars
5/18/05 Steven Brady Hail to Godzilla 5 stars
4/01/05 Mark Radburn Godzilla is the world's greatest monster 5 stars
11/26/04 alien assassin this leaves the bloated 1998 remake for dead ! 5 stars
8/21/04 Tyrantis It's great monster movie with a good message. 4 stars
7/25/04 Robert Patrick An A+ perfotmance! 5 stars
6/18/04 Wendy Lohman Forget the "Godzilla" you know--this film really has something to say! 5 stars
6/16/04 franknutz see the original it is one of the great movies of our time 5 stars
6/16/04 Chas E A Classic 5 stars
5/20/04 Renna cool for it's time/a classic 5 stars
2/19/04 Barry M. Brown Absolutely one of the best films ( bar none ) american, or japanese ever made !!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/12/04 Miguel The original 1954 version stands as an artisic expression of the atomic bomb experience. 5 stars
4/01/03 Godzillafan54 this movie is what i live for! not the crappy american one! Go Go Godzilla!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/27/02 Charlie Björklund Dont confuse this with the others. Kickass movie! 5 stars
4/02/02 Dojo Futisuju BAD 1 stars
3/28/02 NeuroManson Makes you think when 50+ lbs of rubber suits can outperform 2 million dollars in CG effects 5 stars
3/17/02 john one of the best!Not to be mistaken for the 1998 godzilla here in america 5 stars
9/23/01 Larry Smith Raymond Burr is out of place in Japan... He's Perry Mason/Ironside.. not for monster movie 4 stars
6/21/01 Gman2887 The greatest monster film of all time, made by the masters of the genre! 5 stars
6/21/01 Kook As much loved as it is, this really was a hokey flick. Watchable. 2 stars
6/19/01 Captain Spyro The greatest of all Godzilla films!!!! 5 stars
2/16/01 Steve in Prague A dark, moody, brilliant masterpiece 5 stars
3/08/00 David Rogers This is not one of Godzilla's best. But hey it's Godzilla. 5 stars
2/21/00 eejitgrrl This is the REAl lizard king!!!! 5 stars
3/13/99 Ah Dooey There was a Japanese monster movie!? 4 stars
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  27-Apr-1956 (NR)
  DVD: 05-Sep-2006


  02-Jul-1956 (MA)

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