“STILL THE MOST AWESOME! Godzilla is pop culture’s grandest symbol of nuclear apocalypse!” – Owen Gleiberman, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
Wednesday, May 25th at 7:00 p.m. (one night only)
Regular admission prices
Loft Theatre, 3233 E. Speedway
35mm Presentation / Plus vintage “bomb scare” short film before the feature
Part of CINEMA ATOMICO: THE COLD WAR GOES TO THE MOVIES, co-presented by The Loft Cinema and The Titan Missile Museum
Tucson is home to the world famous Titan II Missile Base, the only publicly accessible Titan II missile site in the nation, so we’re teaming up with the Titan Missile Museum (this year celebrating its 25th anniversary) to bring the Cold War back to Tucson … at least on the silver screen.
On a sunny day and calm waters, a Japanese steamer sinks in flames when the sea erupts; a salvage vessel sent to the rescue disappears the same way; exhausted, incoherent survivors babble of a monster. Could it be…?
GODZILLA (aka “Gojira”) was the biggest budgeted film in Japanese history at that time, costing nearly twice as much as The Seven Samurai, released the same year. An enormous hit, it spawned 50 years of sequels, countless rip-offs, and a new genre: the kaiju eiga, or Japanese monster movie. Sold to an American distributor two years later, it was re-cut, re-arranged and atrociously dubbed, with added scenes (shot in Hollywood) of a pre-Perry Mason Raymond Burr observing the action from the sidelines. The re-titled Godzilla: King of the Monsters! still became America’s idea of a classic Japanese movie — and of ultra-cheesy movie-making.
But the original Japanese GODZILLA is one of the great films by a sci-fi master, Ishiro Honda (Akira Kurosawa’s close friend and occasional second unit director). The U.S. cut ran 20 minutes shorter, with another 20 snipped to make room for Burr, so that nearly a third (about 40 minutes) was shorn. The unrelentingly grim American version excised all of the film’s comic relief (including some astonishing Strangelove-like black humor) and censored its strong anti-H-Bomb message, turning it into a run-of-the-mill monster-on-the-loose picture.
The real (human) star of the movie is Takashi Shimura (best known for his Kurosawa roles, including the leader of The Seven Samurai and the doomed man of Ikiru), as a revered paleontologist who insists that Godzilla must be studied, not destroyed (he’s in the minority). This original Godzilla is truly terrifying — a 30-story Jurassic behemoth intent on destroying an exquisitely detailed miniature Tokyo — a tour de force by special effects genius Eiji Tsubaraya. Tsubaraya’s use of “suitmation” — the often-belittled “actor in monster suit” method — was due to time and budget restraints, but, in concert with noirish cinematography, his low-tech approach is still as thrilling as ever. A true classic.
Be scared. Many people mentioned this fictional “nuclear threat” after the huge 3/11/11 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis in Japan. Pray for Japan.