Burning Japanese

Godzilla after 50 years reveals more than just a rubber suit

Releasing the original cut of the film is a good start, at any rate. Chopping and redubbing was clearly the right decision from a 1950s commercial standpoint -- if U.S. audiences couldn't handle Mel Gibson's Mad Max Australian accent in 1979, how could they possibly buy into a Japanese-language film in the mid-1950s? But it was also an aesthetic shame, and it's a bummer that the anti-nuke subtext was almost entirely removed and the morally ambiguous scientist with the secret weapon rendered a stereotypical loony. Subsequent entries in the Godzilla series made the kaiju (giant monster) genre synonymous with goofy wrestling antics, but the original retains its dark tone and deadly serious antiwar message. For today's moviegoing audiences, this may not be your daddy's Godzilla movie, but chances are your granddaddy could teach you a thing or two about the context.

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