Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Dope Island: Godzilla addresses the graduating class of 2014
I couldn’t let sleeping monsters lie. Bad enough I had to know there would be a GODZILLA remake in my lifetime (the 1998 Matthew Broderick one, which I actually found not half bad – meaning not half good, either). But there was another that came along in 2014, that even got the hoity-toity critics on National Public Radio (National Public Radio people still got jobs?) to expound on the wonderfulness of the 1954 Japanese original kaiju classic, as a metaphor for the atom bomb, US imperialism, racism in the National Basketball League, lack of gay marriage, or whatever else NPR commentators are always on about.
This is the real scoop/blasphemy. I’ve seen them both, the original Japanese edit and the more commonly TV-aired American edit GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, with Raymond Burr as a US reporter on the scene, who describes (mostly in flashback) how a giant, radioactive sea monster stomped all Tokyo into ruins.
I actually like the Raymond Burr version better than the looonger, talkier original Japanese cut. You could teach a pretty dandy filmmaking class about how Mr. Burr was very skillfully inserted into the narrative well after the fact, interacting with body doubles and lookalike sets. And the big American gamely anchors the film's tone with the sober narration and delivery of a broadcast war correspondent a la Edward R. Murrow reported from Blitzkrieged London.
And it is in perhaps that spirit that I present this mashup of clips from GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS in what is becoming my annual tribute to the graduating college students this year. In which they find that the economy in which they hope to find jobs has been pretty much stomped by Wall Street flatter than Nippon got by this classic monster.