This is the third and final part of my review of the new Criterion Blu-ray edition of the 1954 Godzilla
and its Americanized counterpart, the 1956 Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
I started off watching the Special Effects feature with SPFX Director Koichi Kawakita. What I found fascinating with it were the unused effects shots, recently located, as well as a detailed discussion on the matte work and, especially, the composite imaging (more extensive than I thought) used in the movie.
Following that, I watched an interview with Japanese-film critic Tadao Sato. The most interesting parts were the discussion of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and the occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1952 (including photographs). Above, the Lucky Dragon No. 5, a big inspiration for Godzilla.* Photo by Armand Vaquer.
I then watched "The Unluckliest Dragon," the documentary of the Lucky Dragon No. 5 (Daigo Fukuryu Maru
), the fishing trawler that was showered with nuclear fallout from the "Castle Bravo" hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll. It was interesting that the bomb was three times more powerful than predicted by U.S. authorities. The documentary also touched on the Fukushima nuclear meltdown following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Before viewing the interviews with Akira Takarada and Haruo Nakajima, I watched the original Japanese trailer.
On Akira Takarada, it was interesting to hear of his experience in making the movie (Godzilla
was his third movie). He stated that in 1954, Japan had a population of 88 million. About 11% of the 88 million went to see Godzilla during its initial release, he said. He also calls Godzilla his "classmate."
For me, the most interesting tidbit from Haruo Nakajima was that he'd go to theaters and turn his back to the screen to observe the audience reaction to what's being shown.
These were all the time I had for. There's other goodies to feast your eyes and ears upon: Interviews with special effects technicians Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai and an interview with Godzilla
score composer Akira Ifukube. If the ones I did manage to view are an indication, then the remaining extras should be just as good.
There's one extra I wished was included: "The Spirit of Godzilla" documentary that appeared in the Toho deluxe edition of Godzilla Final Wars
. A subtitled version of Spirit
would have been the icing on the cake!
Kaiju historian David Kalat provided his insights in the commentary tracks for both versions of Godzilla
My grade for the extras I was able to view: A.
*Information on the Lucky Dragon No. 5 (Daigo Fukuryu Maru
) and how to visit it can be found in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan