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Old June 16 2012, 04:49 AM   #153
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

It's striking how dark, somber, and character-driven a film Gojira actually is, defying expectations of the kaiju genre. I had some giggles at the cheesy effects, but the human portions of the story had a lot more impact, especially the scenes of the aftermath of the destruction -- particularly given that this film was made only nine years after the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The spectre of nuclear destruction definitely haunts the film, and a character in the film essentially says as much outright. (I had a thought... given that Japan is basically an animist culture, with traditional beliefs where everything has an embodying spirit, maybe Gojira was seen as the spirit/embodiment of nuclear devastation and was thus taken more seriously within that cultural context, whereas Westerners just saw a big dinosaur.)

I'm also surprised to learn that Gojira wasn't created or resurrected by the nuclear tests, as I'd thought, but merely displaced from the deeps where he already resided, a surviving relic like the coelacanth. (Although the Jurassic was a lot more than 2 million years ago, guys.)

Rodan, by contrast, is a much more lightweight, superficial kaiju movie, more in keeping with what became the usual formula. There's not a lot of apocalyptic symbolism inherent in a supersonic pteranodon that generates hurricane winds, and there was no core moral dilemma surrounding the climax, just "shoot it a lot." Not nearly as interesting. (I'm recording Mothra now; I'll watch later.)

And is "pteranodon" really such a difficult word to get a handle on? Robert Osborn pronounced it "pteradon" and whoever wrote the subtitles misread it as "petranodon." Though that's not as bad as Osborn thinking Gojira was actually Gojida or Gojita or something.
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