Godzilla: The Japanese Original / New 60th Anniversary Restoration!

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Rejoice, man-in-a-rubber-monster-suit fans! Sixty years after first trampling his way into the collective consciousness (and with a blockbuster Hollywood reboot in theatres this summer), the primordial behemoth known as Godzilla returns in a stunning new 60th anniversary DCP restoration of director Ishiro Honda’s pointedly allegorical 1954 monster movie. While the great Japanese films of the 1950s like Rashoman, Ugetsu and Seven Samurai have long been revered in the US as major works of art, Japan’s biggest domestic hit of that decade, Godzilla (also known in its homeland as Gojira), has been fondly remembered here as a camp classic of epic proportions. But that’s because it’s long been known only in a butchered US release version re-titled Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which deleted 40 minutes of the Japanese original – it’s very heart – and awkwardly added atrocious dubbing and poorly-matched, shot-in-Hollywood scenes of a pre-Perry Mason Raymond Burr observing the action from the sidelines.Leaving less than an hour of the original’s 98 minutes, the cuts eliminated entirely the original film’s strong anti-nuclear theme – with Godzilla seen as a radiation-fueled metaphor for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – and oddly, all of its biting black humor. Directed by the great Ishiro Honda, who later went on to make such other classics of kaiju eiga (“strange creature movies”), as Rodan, Mothra and The H-Man, the original version of Godzilla features more scenes with the real (human) star of the film, Kurosawa-regular Takashi Shimura (who was also the Seven Samurai leader that same year), as well as more of the beloved “suitmation” special effects by legendary effects artist Eiji Tsuburaya. Spawning six decades of sequels, remakes and rip-offs – not to mention generations of rabid fans – the original Godzilla remains as thrilling and chilling as ever! (Dir. by Ishiro Honda, 1954, Japan, in Japanese with subtitles, 98 mins., Not Rated, Rialto Pictures) Digital