The Real Godzilla


Peter Wynn Kirby connects the dots between Japan's disaster and nuclear-themed monster movies from the 1950s:

This B-movie fare is widely mocked, often for good reason. But the early “Godzilla” films were earnest and hard-hitting. They were stridently anti-nuclear: the monster emerged after an atomic explosion. They were also anti-war in a country coming to grips with the consequences of World War II. As the great saurian beast emerges from Tokyo Bay to lay waste to the capital in 1954’s “Gojira” (“Godzilla”), the resulting explosions, dead bodies and flood of refugees evoked dire scenes from the final days of the war, images still seared in the memories of Japanese viewers. Far from the heavily edited and jingoistic, shoot’em-up, stomp’em-down flick that moviegoers saw in the United States, Japanese audiences reportedly watched “Gojira” in somber silence, broken by periodic weeping.

Along the same lines, Garance Franke-Ruta unearthed a cartoon movie version of the Hiroshima bombing from her childhood.

(Image: Daniel Holz compares devastation from Hiroshima in 1945 (left) and Sendai today on the right.)