Showing posts with label Gorzirra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gorzirra. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

What's Goin' On

Today Everyone Votes

Today's election will not result in peace at home or abroad. There will be no immediate universal, empathetic connection with our human kin. Poverty will not be erased. Hatred and fear of The Other will not go away. Our Fabled Wealthy will not suddenly find themselves Regular Joes and Janes, living in rented digs, expected to do a day's work for a day's pay and treated fairly so long as they don't act like jackasses. The climate of the Great Planet will not suddenly calm itself and give us temperate skies and balanced seasons; the vanished animals will not appear again. Our beloved dead will not rise, whole and smiling. The sicknesses of body and spirit will not dwindle and vanish, never to return. There will not be Enough For All, and the children of the world will not all go to warm beds feeling safe, and loved, and excited about what will come on the morrow. 

Today's election will not result in any of this. But all the same -- show up and exercise the franchise, while we can.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Big Guy Barrel-Bottom Time

It Has Come To This

What, you expected 'culture'?

When Gorjira gets bored, look out. Liked His lead-guitar solo vocals, though. We'd better hope the Apocalypse, too also, has its "light moments".


Hopefully, there will be content over the wochenende, but as is painfully obvious for now, I Got Nothin'.  It happens, sometimes:  you're moving through your day, and bam -- there's just nothing in your head. And, it's kind of peaceful. All those important and meaningful topics you were just thinking about are still present but oddly muted, outside on the street and only dimly registering in your consciousness. Meanwhile, you are gently nestled in the cocoon of  a whole buncha Nothin', and for a few moments not even entirely sure what species you are.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Conway Twitty.

Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo At End Of Blog Filler

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Haruo Nakajima, 1929 - 2017

Suited By His Career

Per the Paper Of Record, Haruo Nakajima, the Japanese actor who played Godzilla in over a dozen films, and whose work in a 200-pound rubber suit became cinematic history, passed away yesterday in Japan at age 88. 

Eiji Tsuburaya, Special Effects Director At Toho Studios Who 'Invented' Godzilla,
Confers With Nakajima On Set, 1960's

The Big Guy, as the two people and Superintelligent Parakeet who read BeforeNine know, is nearly this blog's totem avatar creature.  We hold him in high esteem, and wish him all good things. It's good to have a 350-foot giant bipedal lizard on your team.

 Nakajima Rehydrating On A Minature Beach At Toho Studios, 1954
Mr. Nakajima was a 25-year-old stunt actor with just four movies to his credit when he was cast in what are perhaps Japan’s two most famous films of that era: Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece “Seven Samurai,” in which he had a bit part, and “Godzilla,” both released in 1954.

In “Godzilla” he played the titular character: a gigantic, irradiated lizard whose mutated form and destructive power wreaks havoc on Tokyo. The first movie in the “Godzilla” franchise, it was released nine years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a not-so-thinly veiled fable about the dangers of nuclear weapons.

The success of Godzilla kicked off Japan’s golden age of tokusatsu, or “special-filming” movies, in which rubber-costumed actors portraying colossal, terrifying creatures typically destroyed scale-model sets, creating illusions of reality that would would one day be generated even more spectacularly by computers...

Mr. Nakajima was born on Jan. 1, 1929, in Yamagata, Japan. He was 16 when Japan surrendered to the Allies, ending World War II. His first credited acting role was in “Sword for Hire,” in 1952, when he was 23.  As a contract actor for ... Toho [studio], Mr. Nakajima starred in dozens of other monster movies...

Mr. Nakajima was the first iteration of Godzilla but not the last. Toho produced 27 more Godzilla films after Mr. Nakajima hung up his rubber suit in 1972. Since then, Hollywood has produced three “Godzilla” movies. The next in the franchise will star Ken Watanabe and is scheduled for release in 2019.
We already live in a world where Heir Theyre Be Monsters. You may recall in the 2015 version of 'The Big Guy Comes To San Francisco', he defeated the Bad Aliens, and seemed to die -- but was only dead-tired. Picking himself up, he lumbered back to the Sea and swam home, without unnecessarily damaging more of the City. Like the end of the initial Jurassic Park (and again at the end of the last film in that franchise), a Big Lizard saved the day.

The next time you watch any of the Gorjira films made between 1954 and 1972, you're watching Nakajima at work. There may be less onerous ways of earning a living, but being a part of film history is not a bad tagline to a career. Remember: in Japan, Seven Samurai and the original Godzilla are considered the two cornerstones of their national cinema, and Nakajima was an actor in both.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Big Lizard Longevity

The Chairman Of The Board Loves You.

Godzilla Inflation.  Click = Big (Original Image: Noger Chen, 2016)

The only thing more frightening than Godzilla are Godzilla's lawyers.
-- Paul Watson, Canadian Environmentalist
The only thing scarier than Godzilla is Godzilla's lawyers. Paul Watson
Read more at:
The only thing scarier than Godzilla is Godzilla's lawyers. Paul Watson
Read more at:
If you put all the Godzillas who ever were into one location, you'd probably be at the beach. The Big Guy, Chairman Of The Board, Best Giant Bipedal Lizard Ever, is fond of the ocean and gets testy when He's away from it too long. And, what if they all came out of the water at once?

From one of the fan sites that promote The Cult Of The Giant Bipedal Lizard comes a size comparison chart of Toho Studios' (owners of the Godzilla franchise) versions of The Big Guy.  We've cleaned it up a little, enhanced a few colors, and provided a handy date reference. All your favorite Big Lizards are there ... even the 1998 Roland Emerich version (it's the wimpy-looking 'zilla on the far right), widely seen as the embarrassment of the Godzilla 'family' and the main reason Hollywood wouldn't risk producing another Gorjirra movie for nearly two decades.

(The screaming children you can see running in terror are actors; the beach was provided by the City of Santa Monica; and no forms of life larger than a single-celled organism were harmed during the photo shoot -- though the party which followed got a little out of hand. A new bond measure by the State of California should take care of $68.4 million in damages, and the $13 million-dollar bar tab. The Big Guy has good lawyers. Heck, they have a Union!)

All this, as yet another Big Lizard makes its screen appearance -- 'Shin Godzilla' (or in English, Godzilla Resurgence) is being released this week, and is being touted as "the biggest Godzilla [height-wise] of them all".

 A New Gorjirra Looks For The Restrooms (Clicky = Big Big; Easy 'n Fun 4 U.)

There are two tracks in the Godzilla film universe: those made for a Japanese audience; and 'licensed' versions of The Giant Lizard made in Hollywood.  The 2014 Godzilla (go here and also here) was a Made-In-The-U.S. Big Guy.

The monster in 'Resurgence' was primarily made for a Japanese audience (all main characters are Japanese, and the action takes place in Japan), and follows the general track created by the films Toho made for 'home' audiences -- this Godzilla is "new" and doesn't relate to the one we saw performing urban renewal (incidental to eliminating two other monsters) in San Francisco in 2014.

I may see it, may not. Depends on what they're charging medium-sized white Dogs at the Megaplex cinemas these days, and what form of Treats they're selling.

He's There For You.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Stupor Tuesday Too

Chairman Of The Board Loves You

Trust me: It all gets better when you realize the 'Higher Power' is a 350-foot Bipedal Lizard. Plus, there's All-Night Dancing, radioactivity, and Mysterians!  Basically a Gorjirra / Dance Club / Fukashima / Chernobyl / Roswell Space Alien fusion kind of thing.  Saul Goodman, as they say.

MEHR, MIT UNGEHEUERISCH EIDECHSE:   Trumpo !  Hillary The Inevitable !  And, for your listening pleasure, Adalbert Lutter und Ihren Band will play Tea Partei Kommt in Amerika !

... But Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton’s resounding triumphs on Tuesday masked a profound, historic and unusual reality: Most Americans still don’t like him. Or her.

Both major parties must now confront the depth of skepticism, resistance and distaste for their front-runners... Even as they watched the two candidates amass large margins on Tuesday, historians and strategists struggled to recall a time when more than half the country has held such stubbornly low opinions of the leading figures in the Democratic and Republican Parties.

“There is no analogous election in the modern era where the two top candidates for the nomination are as divisive and weak,” said Steve Schmidt, a top campaign adviser to George W. Bush in 2004 and John McCain in 2008. “There is no precedent for it.”

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Gorjirra Comes. Maybe.

Potential Big Weather Named For Big Guy; Possible Bay Area Appearance

Don't Tell Him To Use 'Trivago'. Ever.
It's been reported that conditions in the central Pacific Ocean which can help to produce more rainfall in autumn and winter months (as compared with what's been considered historically 'normal'), the famed "El Niño", have been growing stronger.

That strengthening condition has led some weather forecasters -- such as Bill Patzert, a climatologist for NASA, to say there may be a 90% chance that the potential for heavy rainfall in the winter of 2015-2016, to rival even the amount of water which fell during 1997-98 -- as Patzert put it, "a Godzilla El Niño."

(I remember that season.  It began raining in mid-October of 1997, and continued through a nearly unbroken chain of storms straight through into March, 1998. There were few days without rain, even if only a drizzle, and I don't recall seeing any blue sky, period.

(Rivers quickly moved into flood stage; the over-saturation of the ground in many locations meant mud- and landslides. Storm drains became blocked with debris and overflowed. Homes overlooking the ocean south of San Francisco lost their back yards as cliff edges crumbled, and the surf pounded other homes on the coast of Southern California into driftwood.)

El Niño is caused by a shift in distribution of warm water around the equator in the Pacific Ocean. Normally, winds blow strongly from east to west and cause water to move towards the western part of the Pacific -- that is, around Japan. For reasons best known to science, or Toho Studios, this attracts Mothra, or Monster Zero; The Big Guy shows up and Tokyo will need to budget for urban renewal.

However, in an El Niño, the winds moving the water get weaker, and cause the warmer water to shift back towards the east. This causes the water of the eastern Pacific (that is, the West Coast of the United States, Canada, Mexico, northern south America, and Hawaii ) to get warmer. Usually, Megalon will appear; the Big Guy shows up again, and there is some, uh, cell phone interference that follows.  That's not the best news for L.A., or Kiddietown (formerly San Francisco). 

At The Ferry Building: Can Never Get That Cup Of The Good
The Chairman Of The Board was pleased at the comparison with a Primal Force Of Nature™ (being one Himself), and through his Press Office advised he would make a Bay Area appearance soon, his most recent having been the annual Bay To Breakers marathon.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Random Barking

Just Because We Can

And, because it doesn't have anything to do with terror, funerals, sagging Oligarchs, rioting Kiddies™, children empowered with canned vegetables, and endless garbage from the paid servants of the Owner Class, all saying "Fear the future! Fear It ! Be afraid and vote for Meeeeeeeeeeeeee !!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chairman Of The Board, Part 1

Gozirra, Then and Now
(Part 2 follows)

Disgruntled:  Not Allowed On The 'Blue And Gold Fleet'
Arooo, Arooo / Godzilla Sure Likes You
He's Got Big Feet/ And He Smells Real Neat
Arooo, Arooo Arooo; Arooo, Arooo...
>>  Rhyme Started By Friends' Children;  To The Tune Of, "Hi Ho, Hi Ho; It's Off To Work..."

The Big Guy will be making his appearance this week, on a gigantic multiplex screen near you, in another installment of the timeless saga of ambition, terror, sea water, and a 350-foot Lizard who just wants to be the best 350-foot bipedal Lizard ever, and find love in a busy uncaring world -- the 28th (or, depending on who you ask, the 29th) film version of Godzilla.

In Sixty Years, He Has Entered Our Collective Unconscious

Spoiler Alert, Sort Of

Be Advised: If viewed in reverse, this film shows the Giant Happy Fun Lizard putting out fires and rebuilding a large, urban area for its inhabitants, playfully wrestling with other large alien figures (but none so large as He), then backing away respectfully into the ocean as a grateful nation sends naval vessels and its airforce to join in celebration.  Roll credits; everyone goes home feeling good.
According to people who have actually seen the film (the most creative take I found is by illustrator and reviewer, Natalie Nourigat, and can be found at her site, Spoilers !), most classic moments you expect to see in Giant Monster movies are present: The scientist who tries to warn the population and is ignored; the brave warrior; scenes of people chatting about things personal; the happy children, playing at the seaside... and all the while, the audience knows: Gorzirra Out There. Gorzirra Come Soon. U Are All So Scrood.

So Much For 'Suspension Of Disbelief': No Way It's That Overcast On The Bay In August
In fact, it may be that Godzilla 2014 is so much like previous Giant Monster films that it runs the risk of ironic self-parody -- and when The Big Guy appears, he's just in the nick of time to keep us from nodding off.

And still, we don't know: What the hell does he want? Why does he do the stuff he does? Is he just pissed off, twenty-four-seven? About what? Is he sad? Is there a Ms. Godzilla? And the answer always comes back --  It's In The Script! He's Godzilla! It's a monster movie, for crying out loud; it's not 'Prime Suspect'. There is no nuanced, emotional or rational context in the film to provide those kinds of answers.

 We've seen "Earthquake!" and all the Airport movies, and "2012": the earth shakes a lot; planes almost crash; and there's that Mayan, end-of-the-world thing. They're genre films, which build on every previous film of their kind that's gone before.

The best you can expect is that a director is superb at delivering a genre story (M. Night Shyamalan, say, before Lady In The Water). Rarely, a classic appears and redefines a genre (like Chinatown, or Alien) -- but in general, most of these films follow a formula as faithfully as the tides.

Outtake For The Gag Reel: Having Blown His Line, The Big Guy Does Karaoke
And special effects -- showing us what the impossible looks like -- draw us in.  I'm also curious to see what Bryan Cranston does with his role (his first after Breaking Bad), and Ken Watanabe (of 'Letters From Iwo Jima' and Inception), but the CGI treats will be a focus.  And I'm interested to see whether my neighborhood survives; from the stills on the Intertubes, it appears North Beach, the Waterfront and Financial district are Toast, so who knows.

And I'll go to see The Chairman Of The Board, of course. He's been a treat for sixty years.

1954: Big Guy's Beginnings

(Note: This narrative undoubtedly has holes, inaccuracies, and is incomplete. It won't satisfy a Godzilla, or a film, purist. This an arc about the evolution of a character from destroyer, to near-slapstick character, and back again. Enjoy.)

Gojira (The Original) Attacks The Tokyo Diet Building, 1954
The Godzilla franchise isn't as old a film character as Dracula or Frankenstein, Batman or Superman -- but the mythos behind all of them has periodically been re-imagined and re-translated on the screen for new generations. There's no doubt about it, though: As a concept, Godzilla is a classic. And in Japan, Gorjira is regarded as one of the two most classic films in its national cinema -- right alongside Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai.

No joke: when it premiered in 1954, Japanese audiences (who have very different cultural reference points than we here in the West) didn't consider it a cheesy monster flick so much as a serious morality tale about the limits of science, told through the destructive hijinks of a mythic lizard. In fact, there's a bronze statue honoring The Big Guy in downtown Tokyo.

Ray Harryhausen's Stop-Motion Creature, 1953
Godzilla's cinematic roots were Made In The USA: In 1953, Warner Brothers premiered the classic Beast From 20,000 Fathoms -- a giant, prehistoric dinosaur, released from frozen sleep in the Arctic by a nuclear test explosion, swims to New York City and then comes ashore to raise all kinds of ruckus. Sound familiar? The monster was played by a large rubber model with an internal, articulated armature, operated by the master of stop-motion animation, Ray Harryhausen, (the armature designed and built by Ray's father), and the film was distributed around the world.

But Godzilla's real genesis began over a labor dispute: In the spring of 1954, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka of Japan's Toho Film Studios was in a real fix.  Having negotiated making a film for Toho in Indonesia, with everything ready, the Indonesian government refused to grant visas to Japanese actors (one way of saying, "Thanks for the brutal occupation of our country a few years back").  Tanaka, who was just trying to make a movie, was moderately screwed.

Director Honda (Left), Producer Tanaka (Right), Toho Films
Toho Studios had grown out of a theater company which (among other things) managed all Kabuki theatres in the city of Tokyo. It began to make films in the late 1920's, and operated movie houses for a new, domestic Japanese market. After 1945, it was struggling to make and distribute motion pictures in a Japan still trying to define itself after the end of the Second World War. 

Tanaka had funding to complete a film, but suddenly, no project; he had to find one, or else. As he flew back to Japan from Indonesia, that American film he'd seen, Beast From 20,000 Fathoms -- about a monster lizard terrorizing New York -- drifted through his head, and he began getting ideas.

Back in Tokyo, Tanaka made a forceful pitch to the studio heads to make their own version of  20,000 Fathoms. He was given approval to re-direct the budget of his Indonesian picture towards this new film -- but with one catch: he had only six months to get a film in the can, edit it, and produce a Final Cut.

This called for what the Japanese referred to during WWII (some enthusiastically; some with sarcastic derision) as a "Hero Project" -- shortened deadlines, intense work, little sleep, and All Hands On Deck. In short order, Ishirō Honda (who had already completed two domestic films for Toho) was hired to direct what Tanaka called "Project G" (for 'giant'). Shigeru Kayama, a science-fiction author, was engaged to develop a screenplay and the concept of  The Monster -- originally a wild predator which came ashore, ate people, and went back in the water.

A second draft of the screenplay by Honda and Takeo Murata expanded on themes Tanaka wanted to see in the finished film -- fears of radiation and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, real-life monsters unleashed by the United States in the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and through continuing nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific.

The Monster in their script -- which had no name, yet -- grew in size, particularly after the studio consulted their special-effects director, Eiji Tsuburaya, who had worked with director Honda on his previous films.
Before Godzilla's Visit: Tsubraya's Miniature Tokyo Bay (1954)
Tsuburaya was known at Toho Studios for the realism of miniature model effects he created for a 1942 Toho film dramatizing Japan's attack on at Pearl Harbor. He had been intrigued by stop-motion animation ever since seeing King Kong in the 1930's, and while he was impressed with Harryhausen's work for 20,000 Fathoms,  Tsuburaya advised Honda and Tanaka that a stop-motion Creature would not work for the new project.  That technique was time-intensive, and 'Project G' had no time to spare.

Tsuburaya suggested an actor wearing a large suit would be their Monster, and attack a tiny Tokyo. Some wanted a monster designed with a mushroom-shaped head, reminiscent of a mushroom cloud, but the traditionalists won -- the Creature was dinosaur-like, but still needed a name. Producer Tanaka reportedly overheard colleagues talking about a Toho Studio press agent, nicknamed "Gojira," -- a combination of the Japanese words for gorilla (Gorira) and whale (Kujira). Tanaka decided to use it as both the name for the Creature and the title of the film -- and to Western ears, 'Gorjira' sounds very much like... Godzilla.

(MEHR, Mit Arooo: In response to a question, yes: the sound, "Arooo!" assigned to The Big Guy did originate from its use by 'Nixon's Head' in the animated series, Futurama

Here at Before Nine, we've reported Arooo being used by The Zombified Ronald Rayguns, among other things. Oddly, it's a term also applied to conical, clear plastic packaging, and [our favorite] Dog Products.)

(Part 2 Follows Below)

Chairman Of The Board, Part 2

Gorzirra, Then and Now
(Part One Is above; or, Go Here)

Releasing Gojira: 1954

(The Story Thus Far:  An American film, Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, is released by Warner Brothers in 1953, and gives producer Tomoyuki Tanaka of Toho Film Studios the inspiration he needs to save his job. Allowed to make a Japanese version, he is given roughly six months to complete it.

(Tanaka envisions a Giant Lizard, the mutated product of radioactive fallout or contamination, to serve as a warning about the limits of science and unintended consequences of the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

(It's decided the Creature will be named "Gorjira" [a combination of the Japanese words for 'Gorilla' and 'Whale'], and the project's special effects consultant, Eiji Tsuburaya, convinces Tanaka and his team that an actor in a large rubber suit can play the Monster, and will have the fun of ravaging a miniature downtown Tokyo.)
Haruo Nakajima (Left) Served Tea On The Set Of Godzilla (1954) 
One of Toho Studios' principal stunt actors, Haruo Nakajima, volunteered to play Gorjira -- but even with several redesigns, the suit was heavy and difficult to use (its final version required a drain for collected sweat) and only frequent rehydration breaks kept Nakajima from passing out due to heat exhaustion. 

Tsuburaya (Left) Confers With Nakajima, 1956

The film was completed on schedule, released in Japan on November 3, 1954, and was a blockbuster hit.  Overnight, Toho was the film studio in Japan, and Gojira's director, producer and special effects creator hailed as geniuses of the cinema arts.

The film was sold to the American market; producer Joseph E. Levine had it dubbed, cut by twenty minutes, and inserted scenes of Raymond Burr (star of the popular television series, "Perry Mason") as an Edward-R-Murrow-style journalist, broadcasting eyewitness accounts of The Big Guy's trip to Tokyo.

Raymond Burr Contemplates His Fee For This Acting Job
Levine named the film "Godzilla, King of the Monsters", and released it in 1956. It was a smash in the U.S., pulling in $2 million dollars (that's about $40M in 2014 dollars, kids -- not bad for a guy in a rubber suit).

Toho, and Daikaiju, Go Viral: 1955 - 1961

Tanaka initially considered Godzilla a one-shot morality tale, not the beginning of a 'franchise', and of an entire cinema industry.  However, the movie was so popular (not only in Japan, but worldwide) and making sequels seemed so potentially profitable, that in less than a year Toho shot and released "Godzilla's Counterattack" (later famous for the derisive line, "And you call yourself a scientist").

This was the first film where Godzilla would fight another monster, Anguirus (which became Godzilla's friend in later movies) -- and this established what eventually became the hallmark of the Godzilla 'franchise': Other monsters appear (from inside the earth, from outer space, or the mind of Minolta), wreak havoc, and Earth is defenseless... until Godzilla appears to save the day.

War Of The Rubber Suits: Big Guy And Anguirus Duke It Out
"Counterattack" (released as Gigantis in the U.S.) wasn't as successful in Japan as the original Godzilla, and the movie didn't adapt well to foreign distribution. As a result,  Toho began releasing other daikaiju movies (a term meaning "gigantic, strange monster"), a new genre of films Toho had created and which other Japanese studios began to imitate) -- most notably Rodan; "Varan the Unbelievable"; and Mothra by 1961.

All three of these characters would appear in later Godzilla films. All were solid box-office hits in Japan; Toho Films decided to keep milking the daikaiju cow so long as it kept paying off.

Good, Bad, and Even Worse: 1961 - 1973

"Look, No One Told Me Kyoto Was A World Heritage Site"
... and pay off it did. In 1961, Toho collaborated with American producer John Beck to create "King Kong versus Godzilla", the most box-office popular Godzilla movie of all time in the U.S. and Japan.  On the strength of that success, Toho produced 12 more Godzilla films -- by the end of which Godzilla was transformed from a mutant, destructive Monster created by atomic radiation, to the protector of humankind.

Actually, no one can be certain whether The Big Guy likes humankind enough to fight for it, or is just amazingly pissed off at the violation of his turf by some giant Bug / Dragon / Flying Turtle / et al.

(I'm not adding a list of all Godzilla productions; you can look at the Godzilla Wiki for that. We're just looking at the evolution of an archetype here.)

Unfortunately, over time, several things happened:  Godzilla's character and portrayal began to resemble the formulaic aspects of other daikaiju films and characters, and other Giant Monster films had a certain level of low comedy and moments of near-slapstick action.  Toho adapted its most popular character to fit the genre, not the other way around, and by the early 1970's things were ... goofy.

No longer the chunky-but-trim Terror From Under The Sea who laid waste to large urban areas, Godzilla lost most of his back spines and looked like... your neighbor, in a big rubber suit.

Godzilla (L), Megalon (R), And Other 400-Foot-Tall Beings
In 1971, I thought the bottom of the barrel was Toho Studio's "Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster", which showed human victims chopped up in sections (take that, kiddies), pratfalls, and Godzilla boxing like a human. It's tough to maintain suspension of disbelief under those circumstances.

Unfortunately, it was topped by their 1973 Godzilla vs. Megalon -- I swear to God; the stunt workers in that 89 painful minutes of cinema had to have been higher than Mt. Fuji. And the "film" was shot in only two weeks: Toho was low on funding. The daikaiju cow had gone dry.
Death And Transfiguration: 1975 - 1995

In 1974 and 1975, Toho tried slightly rebranding their character for its 20th anniversary in MechaGodzilla and The Terror Of MechaGodzilla, but the original magic of the character had been badly diluted; the public wouldn't pay to watch him, and Toho's executives didn't want to risk their money in future Godzilla film projects.  The Big Guy only made a few appearances on Japanese daikaiju science-fiction television into the early 1980's, all moderately ridiculous compared with the menace and destructive power of the original Monster.

In 1984, the 30th anniversary of the character's birth, Toho made a simple and radical decision to save the franchise which had financed the studio's successful expansion for decades:  They started producing a new set of Godzilla films, called the "Heisei Series."

Most were for the Japanese market only -- but through them, Toho Studios simply 'reset' their character -- they ignored every Godzilla film made after the original 1954 release (good pick, that) and started with a new film appropriately titled Godzilla, which starred a Big Lizard who looked almost identical to the one who stepped on Tokyo in 1954.

In it, The Big Guy returns to his amazingly pissed-off former self, indestructible, created by nuclear radiation, a 350-foot-tall Lizard out for your personal ass.  It was released in America as Godzilla 1985, with some added scenes featuring an American played by (wait for it) Raymond Burr.

Ten years later, in 1995, Toho decided to end their franchise by killing it, in Godzilla vs. Destroyer. Toho made Godzilla's death public by adding "Godzilla Dies!" to posters and advertising of the film, and (while leaving a door open for a successor to reappear), The Big Guy dies.

Broderick Gets Up Close And Personal With Roland Emerich's So-Called Lizard (1998)

In 1998, everyone wished his successor had died before the filming started when TriStar Films licensed with Toho to develop their own Godzilla -- a computer-generated Big Lizard which had little relation to the classic Big Lizard. Directed by Roland Emerich and starring Matthew Broderick, it was a financial and artistic flop; the less said about it, the better -- but it was Bad. It was just Bad.

There was, of course, the movie 'Atonement', but Godzilla's appearance in that film was barely mentioned. Probably because we'd all rather look at Keira Knightley.

So, there are two Godzillas -- the Japanese Monster who came from the sea to destroy things, stayed to become a comedic actor, then returned to his old ways.  That current Godzilla encompasses both the original Destructor, the product of bad science and big bombs, and his daikaiju side, battling other Big Monsters to protect the Earth, his turf, or just for the hell of it.

Godzilla films have continued to be popular in Japan, and a second series was released following The Big Guy's supposed 'death' in 1995 -- again, Toho simply "reset" the story line without reference to the character's end... but this is one side of his existence that American or European audiences don't see. In Asia, Godzilla is timeless and lives on, as pissed-off and irrascible as ever, sometimes defending mankind and occasionally kicking Tokyo's ass.

The second Godzilla is a creature of Hollywood -- less accessible, a  Godzilla "leased" from Toho Studios and who is (aber natürlich) much different for a Western audience. He's more of an animal, nastier, cunning and cold-blooded -- kind of like The Koch Brothers on a good day.  He's all Destructor. No slapstick from this Big Guy.

However, after Emerich's poor showing nearly twenty years ago, no American studio (or whoever owns the conglomerates which make films these days -- Disney; Little Rupert's Fox; Comcast) wanted to risk putting money behind another Godzilla remake -- until now. This new film is supposed to be a "totally new concept" in Godzilladom. We'll see.

It's nice, though, that The Big Guy is getting work. He thinks so, too, I'm sure.


MEHR: With apologies to Fafnir, Giblets, the ghost of Freddy el Desfibradddor; Mistah Charlie, Phd.; and the Medium Lobster Himself (who is, well... pretty sizable):
Godzilla! There is no Giant Happy Fun Lizard but He - the Living, The Self-subsisting, the Eternal. No slumber can seize Him Nor Sleep. His are all things In the heavens and on earth and under the oceans. Who is there that can intercede In His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth What (appeareth to All as) Before or After or Behind them. Nor shall they compass Aught of His knowledge Except as He willeth. His throne doth extend Over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth No fatigue in guarding and preserving them, For He is the Most High, The Supreme (in glory). He is Godzilla, King Of The Monsters, the One and Only.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Big Guy Returns

Chairman Of The Board

The banner at the top shows a view towards the Bay this morning, as The Big Guy made his way carefully under the Golden Gate Bridge and began wading east through San Francisco Bay. As usual, most water traffic was halted until noon, but ferry service should resume shortly.

It's the 101st running of the Bay-To-Breakers here on May 20th, and Godzilla's participation has been a time-honored tradition since 1954.

As an avid jazz aficionado, Godzilla will be appearing at or near Yoshi's, beside the Oakland yacht harbor (there's a celebration of the music of Johnny Otis this evening), and is scheduled to address the graduating classes at UC Berkeley and Stanford while he's in the area. We're not sure how or where else he'll spend his time here, but he will be hard to miss.

The Big Guy is a UCLA graduate, and we understand Stanford has begged for mercy in advance of his appearance.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Godzilla Did Not Come From Kansas


This is a panel from Incidental Comics, a Blog Out 'O The Midwest, which has comics and interesting stories from America's heartland. I like it, and recommend you try liking it, too.

Sadly, it is not accurate about the origins of Godzilla, but I'll let The Big Guy speak for himself:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Kids Are All Right

Big Guy Returns For BTB Weekend

The real Chairman Of The Board waded through the Golden Gate early this morning to make the annual Bay-To-Breakers -- if not a San Francisco Treat, it's certainly a tradition.

Anyway, that's what all the extra helicopters you see around are all about. We are, as always, happy to see him.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Big Guy In The Big Sky

We're missing the Big Guy these days. I can think of half a dozen people and things he could be stepping on, right now.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


The Big Guy In Bronze: His Monument In Tokyo.
(Photo: Copyright Jerome Limozin, courtesy of TrekEarth)

Not kidding; there is actually a statue of the Big Happy Fun Lizard™ in the Yurakucho district (close to the Ginza), in Tokyo.

Apparently, it has become Tokyo's version of the large standing clock in the lobby of the St. Francis hotel in San Francisco, which became famous (due to clever advertising) as the spot to meet a date and then have a drink in the hotel's Compass Bar (when it was still in operation): Meet me under the clock at the St. Francis.

Well, in Tokyo, "Meet you at Godzilla!" is common.

I passed this along to the Big Guy, who of course knew about the statue (he couldn't make the unveiling), but was tickled that it's used as a social gathering place. He's trying to play down the frightening-monster-as-big-as-the-Chrysler-Building part of his image.

Another view of the statue (Photo: Photographer Unknown)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ah, The Good Old Days

I was talking with Godzilla recently, and The Big Guy related a story about his great-grandfather I found interesting.

A lot of people believe that Godzilla is a mutant creation of 1950's nuclear testing, but in fact, Godzilla has always been with us. It's a role that's passed down from Father to Son in the Big Lizard family from Time immemorial; the current Godzilla inherited the job from his father, who succeeded his father before him, and so on.

To make a shorter story: Godzilla's great-grandfather was approached by the Cherokee Plains Indians in 1827, and asked if he wouldn't help them keep the emerging Frontier free of encroaching American settlers. A treaty was struck between them, but eventually the then-Godzilla declared it null and void when the Cherokee started outsourcing part of his duties to the Lakota and Crow People.

The Big Guy said he'd been reminded of this bit of family history when the following cartoon by Bizarro, also known as Dan Piraro, appeared recently:

[Copyright Dan Piraro, 5/17/09; Dist. By King Features Syndicate.]

Godzilla has enjoyed Piraro's work for some time, and suggests -- if you haven't already -- making a visit to Dan's site, which is also a Blogger creation.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Godzilla's Atonement: Big Movie Weekend

Tne long-awaited release of the director's cut of 'Atonement', which restores Godzilla to his rightful place in the film.

Among the restored scenes is the Alternate Ending (known in studio circles as the "Bambi Conclusion") where, as Vanessa Redgrave's character stumbles through a self-deluding apology, The Big Guy steps on her, then lets out a primal roar of triumph so familiar to fans of His seventy-odd films -- a much more satisfying ending in so many ways.

Last week, the newest take on Star Trek opened; this weekend, the Tom Hanks Full Employment Project continues with Angels & Demons. I read the book years ago and was staggered at what a poor writer Dan Brown is -- that work, at any rate, was hackneyed, riddled with cliches and caricatures. I remember skipping through the book to its last twenty or so pages and (once I knew how it had ended) finally, mercifully, closing it.

(And, just because we want to know how a story ends is no proof of the quality of the author's writing. It's the skipping to the last twenty-plus pages that's the giveaway.)

Recalling Brown's book reminded me of two things -- the first, that in other eras most popular novels were just as execrable, and long ago faded into complete obscurity even though their publication made some authors momentarily famous and financially comfortable.

The second is an exchange between Kirk and Spock in Star Trek V: The Journey Home. The pair are riding a bus across the Golden Gate Bridge; Kirk disparages late 20th Century American culture and mentions "the literature of the era: Jacquelyn Susann, the novels of Harold Robbins."

"Ah," Spock says. "The Giants."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

That Wacky Big Guy

The Big Guy Arrives, Having Passed Under The GGB

The current banner is a shot from my apartment window earlier this morning. This might seem bizarre and singular where you are -- but here in the Wonderland that is San Francisco, watching Godzilla in majestic progression as he wades through the Golden Gate is pretty commonplace. Only the tourists really stop to gawk.

Watching him go under the Golden Gate Bridge is quite a sight. He's actually very careful about boats and shipping lanes, and the entire process takes about twenty minutes.

Apparently, the Big Guy is back this time to attend the Dalai Lama's appearance in Berkeley; he and the Lama were drinking buddies back in the day.

We've known The Chairman Of The Board from way back in the day, too: