With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Theatrical run of new restoration of GODZILLA: THE JAPANESE ORIGINAL coming April 18 thru 24

Rialto Pictures
Directed by Ishirô Honda
Japan, 1954, 96 minutes

Here's exciting press release information about the one-week long theatrical release of the original Godzilla later this month.

A new restoration of GODZILLA: THE JAPANESE ORIGINAL, Ishirô Honda’s landmark of the kaiju eiga - or Japanese monster movie - will run at Film Forum [at 209 West Houston Street] in New York from Friday, April 18 through Thursday, April 24 (one week) to commemorate the picture’s 60th anniversary. Showtimes daily at 1:15, 3:15, 5:15, 7:30, & 9:45. The restored original will also play in other major cities the same week. [For further information, showtimes and to order tickets for screenings at Film Form, click here.]

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 was the biggest budgeted film in Japanese history at that time, costing nearly twice as much as the same studio’s 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. Released in the U.S. two years later as Godzilla: King of the Monsters, a butchered [80 minute] version with the Japanese footage re-cut, re-arranged and atrociously dubbed, it added new scenes (shot in Hollywood) of a pre-Perry Mason Raymond Burr observing the action from the sidelines. This, the Godzilla most American fans remember, is a mere shadow of the original. [Note that for several years very good two-disc DVD editions featuring both versions have been available in North America, first from Classic Media, more recently from The Criterion Collection.]


To make room for Burr and to excise a strong anti-nuclear subtext, King of the Monsters deleted 40 minutes of the Japanese version — its very heart — including the opening credits and ominous main theme by the great Akira Ifukube; Tokyo commuters wisecracking about surviving yet another disaster; a vituperative session in the Japanese parliament; the original cautionary ending; and more scenes with the real (human) star of the movie, Takashi Shimura, best known for his Kurosawa roles, including the doomed central character of Ikiru and as the leader of the Seven Samurai.

The 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 Tsuburaya, whose use of “suitmation,” the often-belittled “man in a monster suit” method, was due to time and budget restraints. But, in concert with noirish cinematography, this low-tech approach is still as thrilling as ever. This stunning new restoration of the complete, uncut version features new subtitles by Bruce Goldstein and Michie Yamakawa.

Legendary Pictures’ remake of Godzilla, starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston, opens nationwide on May 16.