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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 13 March 2017
This is the film for Godzilla purists it is better than the two newer versions although I enjoyed the 60s and 70s films as well mainly because of the poor special effects love a corny movie.This is a serious attempt at a monster movie well worth a watch.
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on 24 April 2017
Super quick delivery. Received a week before the due date.
Brilliant original black and white Japanese film. Picture quality and sound very good. Great to finically get my own copy. Loved watching it again.
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on 16 April 2017
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on 22 May 2017
The OG of monster films
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on 20 March 2014
Being interested in Japan, Japanese culture, Japanese as a language and so forth, I felt that I was doing myself a disservice by having not watched perhaps the most famous Japanese film of all time.

In short, it was a fantastic film!

No, the special effects haven't aged well, and the black and white nature of the film may be off-putting to some. But the core of it has aged remarkably well. The acting is strong (I watch a lot of Japanese movies and the acting in Godzilla is well above average), and the film is suitably shocking in terms of presentation and plotline.

In short the film is anti-nuclear, which makes it interesting to view in the context of the time it was made, only a few years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by the atomic bomb. I understand that the original English-language version cut out most of the anti-nuclear message, but this version keeps it strongly. It's a great and culturally significant storyline that makes Godzilla far more than the simple monster story that most believe it to be.

In terms of this specific DVD, there isn't really anything can fault it on. The picture quality was great and it upscaled very well into HD.

It was a great film and is highly recommended!
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on 5 November 2016
Fantastic release, BFI did a brilliant job restoring this Japanese masterpiece and jammed packed with bonus content also being informative about Godzilla's history. My only criticism which it doesn't hurt it's 5 stars it's why include the US trailer if the american version is not included, while Classic Media and The Criterion Collection do include it?

The film's striking and serious tone makes it really stand out from other monster films, even films in general. excluding the 14 films from the Showa Era that came after the original, more into it's true sequel in 1984 The Return of Godzilla from the Heisei Series (or in Japan it's just called Godzilla) and the recent film in the franchise Shin-Godzilla, these films do address Godzilla as the metaphor for the atomic bomb itself, especially coming from Japan who had experienced the deadly power of nuclear weapons, but in the american version (Godzilla King of the Monsters) loses this metaphor completely.

While people are spoiled now with CGI effects and they would rather criticize Godzilla's effects for being cheep/dated, to me the effects still hold up and have charm to them. The acting is strong to make these characters well-developed and memorable, either emotionally or tragically, something about some movies now a days lacking strong characters. The film's Sountrack by Akira Ifukube is haunting which matches film's serious tone, plus he made Godzilla's roar by rubbing a leather glove on a Double Base.

I can't praise this movie enough for being one of the most influential movies of all time, I call it the Citizen Kane of monster films, but it's a shame that most people in the UK only think that there's 4 movies, this film, King Kong vs. Godzilla, 1998, 2014 and that's it, while everybody else in the world has all 31. I don't see how hard it is to release all of them here, there are plenty of fans here who would love to see them all, rather than importing them or pirating them. Plus I'm willing to bet if Shin-Godzilla doesn't get released here, it will be the most pirated Godzilla movie in history, if BFI sees this review maybe they would consider to release more of them, I say films shouldn't be restricted even region codes. Overall the original Godzilla or Gojira in Japan is a masterpiece and he definitely deserves the title KING OF THE MONSTERS.
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on 12 February 2017
Very good
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NB: As is their wont, Amazon have unhelpfully bundled together all the reviews for the various editions and formats of this title regardless of how confusing this may be to prospective purchasers. This is a review of Criterion's US DVD and Region A-locked Blu-ray release, though it does discuss other available editions.

It's a strange and almost unnoticed fact that the two Japanese films of 1954 that put Japanese cinema at its most poetic and its most populist on the international map both starred Takashi Shimura. The same year he led a group of Ronin to defend a poor village for Akira Kurosawa he was also trying to unravel the mystery of Gojira, only to get sidelined in the US version of the film in favor of a not exactly seamlessly edited in Raymond Burr. Criterion's Region A-locked Blu-ray and Region 1 NTSC DVD edition of Godzilla in both its incarnations is a nice presentation of a movie that isn't quite as good as you'd like it to be but still isn't bad for all that.

While the Japanese version, with its heavy Hiroshima and Nagasaki allegorical overtones, is the better film, the American version isn't exactly negligible. Restructuring the film's timeframe, beginning in the aftermath of the destruction of Tokyo and framing much of the film as a flashback to explain the need for narration, it sidelines the nuclear subplot and Shimura (who is badly dubbed by an actor who can't pronounce `phemonenum' in his few surviving scenes) but still offers much of the flavor of the original, as well as offering a couple of bizarrely charming moments of camp from Raymond Burr: it's almost worth it for the little look he gives the security officer in the helicopter.

Both films were previously available in a decent edition from Classic Media in the USA, Gojira & Godzilla King of Monsters [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC], and despite the great claims made for Criterion's new release the picture quality is not that big an upgrade over their DVD version because they're clearly working with the same master material (though it definitely has the edge on Classic Media's disappointing 1081i Blu-ray release, Gojira [Blu-ray] [1954] [US Import], which only included the Japanese version). Where Criterion's edition scores is in an excellent selection of extras, including two audio commentaries by David Kalat on the different versions which veer more to the political and intellectual than Ed Godziszewski and Steve Ryfle's enthusiastically fan-friendlier commentaries on the Classic Media release, as well as an impressive array of interviews with actors Akira Takarada (who recalls introducing himself on set as playing the lead only to be told by a technician "Godzilla's the lead, you idiot") and the man in the suit himself Haruo Nakjima (who recollects the crew's sweat dripping down like rain from the gantries of the unairconditioned set onto the costume), special effects men Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai, composer Akira Ifukube (running an impressive 50 minutes and the most detailed on the disc) and film critic Tadao Sato. As if that wasn't enough there are also a couple of featurettes on the Photographic Effects and some unlucky Japanese fishermen whose exposure to radiation were one of the inspirations for the film, The Unluckiest Dragon, the original Japanese and US trailers and a booklet.

On the minus side, some of the white subtitles aren't as easy to read against the lighter backgrounds as they could be and the Blu-ray, as per all of Criterion's discs, is incredibly slow to load. If you have the Classic Media DVD, it's worth holding onto that for its exclusive extras, but the extras package alone makes this well worth an upgrade for fans.
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Godzilla is one of those iconic creatures that everyone knows, even if they've never seen a Godzilla movie: a giant radioactive reptile who likes to smash his way through Japanese cities.

But for people who have only seen him fighting Mecha-Robo-Mothzilla or whatever, the original "Godzilla"/"Gojira" will probably seem like a very different movie. Despite having a man in a rubber suit squishing miniatures, this is no campiness, no silliness, no over-the-top action. It's a sobering, slow-moving movie that just happens to involve a giant nuclear lizard.

Two Japanese vessels suddenly explode and sink, and the Coast Guard has no idea what or who could have done this. A single survivor washes ashore, declaring that a "monster" destroyed the boats. Oh, and fish have mysteriously vanished from the ocean, which a superstitious old guy attributes to a sea god called "Gojira."

Like all superstitious old guys, he's actually right. While a group of scientists investigate the weird goings-on on the island, a vast reptilian creature appears, says hi, and then vanishes back into the ocean. He is "Gojira," aka "Godzilla," a prehistoric monster who has been woken from his aeons-long slumber by recent thermonuclear activity in the Pacific. Dr. Yamane (Takashi Shimura) is conflicted by the government's determination to destroy Godzilla.

Meanwhile, Yamane's daughter Emiko (Momoko Kōchi) reveals to her new boyfriend Hideto (Akira Takarada) that her reclusive fiance, Dr. Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata) has a dark secret -- a scientific weapon that might be able to stop Godzilla. But Serizara fears it could also be turned against other human beings.

People probably scoff at the idea of "Godzilla"/"Gojira" as a slow-moving metaphorical movie, but that's usually because they're either A) hung up on the rubber suit, or B) only thinking of the smash-em-up Godzilla Vs. Other Monster movies. The original movie is a far more sober affair, with more of a focus on the human characters and the struggles they go through.

It's also worth noting that this movie was made a scant decade after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Godzilla himself stands in for the bomb. But the metaphor has no hostility, no anger, no blame. There's just a sense of raw sorrow and pain, and a sober warning about ANYONE using the bomb. In fact, a good portion of the movie is devoted to a man who has created a horrifying superweapon, and will literally do whatever he can to MAKE SURE nobody ever can use it.

Director Ishirō Honda pretty clearly knows what he's doing, littering the story with sobbing children and ordinary people freaking out. The story drags a bit when it focuses on the Emiko/Serizawa/Hideto love triangle, though -- it's at its best when it focuses on Godzilla, the havoc he wreaks, and the moral issues that crop up.

Honda also gives the movie a genuinely epic scale, sweeping from a tiny fishing village to the flaming ruins of Tokyo, with people ranging from elite scientists to crusty old men who believe in sea-gods. Lots of wide shots show Godzilla smash as he lumbers through Tokyo, destroying everything in his way. Yes, it's a guy in a rubber suit, but if you can overlook that, then everything else is beautifully intense.

It also has a pretty good cast -- the perpetually droopy-faced Shimura, Takarada, Kōchi, and many others. There are so many people in the movie that to describe all the good performances would take forever, since there are good ones on every level -- even extras who appear in just one scene can give amazing performances.

But the most important performance here is from Akihiko Hirata. It's a little hard to get past Hirata's pirate eyepatch (why did he need that?), but he gives a raw, painful quality to Serizawa. At first he seems like an insensitive weirdo, but gradually we see that he's a man given a horrifying choice -- no matter what he does, people will die horribly. He can let Godzilla kill hundreds or thousands, or he can unleash something that could kill even more.

"Godzilla"/"Gojira" is a slower, deeper, wiser movie than many of the goofier sequels that came after it, and is a harrowing, intense sci-fi movie despite the rubber suit. Definitely one to see.
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on 5 August 2015
Bought the BFI DVD version and loved it. Suspenseful story, memorable soundtrack and fun special effects with interesting human characters to accompany the film. The DVD also features some interesting extras and a lovely cover design of black, green and red colour.

The human elements of this story are really well told, the characters are rich and interesting and the foreign setting gives it an extra appeal. The film uses subtitles rather than dubbing and I always prefer this. Godzilla is portrayed as an awesome destructive force of nature, awaken by nuclear tests. The tone is somber and the film is full of conflict, conflict between Godzilla and Japan, conflict between characters and conflict within characters.

There's some nice cinematography in the film and the ending featuring one character sacrificing himself to save everyone has been copied by so many numerous other films since.

The Picture ratio is full screen. The artwork on the cover of the BFI DVD is also great.
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