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YMMV / Godzilla (1954)

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • In the first two acts, Godzilla destroys multiple boats, destroys a village during a typhoon, and attacks Tokyo twice, thoroughly destroying the city in the process. In the final act, Godzilla is... resting in peace. To him, it may be the fact that Humans Are Bastards and conducting nuclear tests which may have scarred him for life. His successors even sees humans this way.
    • Godzilla, having vented his revenge and left his message to man, is now content to live in the sea. But humanity cannot be sure he will never return, and so must destroy him.
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  • Angst Aversion: Initially, this happened when the film came out in 1954, where the source of that angst was the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Daigo Fukuryū Maru incident in March 1 of that year. This later became subverted in recent years, and it has garnered enough sympathy for the audience, both Japanese and western fans of the franchise, as a post-war commentary of Japanese life after World War II, but its effects weighs heavily as life went on. Even modern fans starts to see what the the film was famous for.
  • Anvilicious: This is a film about the bomb, and it's not at all subtle about it. Godzilla is born from reckless nuclear testing, and, like the atom, proves a dangerous and unstoppable force far outside man's control. Furthermore, Dr. Serizawa's anguish over potentially developing the next superweapon and struggle over using it has obvious overtones for the atomic age. The film closes with Dr. Yamane solemnly predicting that future atomic testing and brinkmanship will only create more monsters.
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  • Ear Worm: Since this is Akira Ifukube's first film in which he composed, many themes, all the music in the movie are friggin' earworm-worthy. Especially the sad themes, which are guaranteed to haunt you and blur your vision with tears.
  • First Installment Wins: After over thirty films, almost all of which have at least some fans, the original is still almost universally regarded as the finest entry in the series.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Due to its North American premire in 2004, several fans love this film more than Godzilla: King of the Monsters!.
  • Growing the Beard: This is perhaps the first, if not, only film in the franchise where it takes a typical giant monster movie involving nukes, and deconstructs it in a way that it feels more of a post-war tragedy (which it actually is). While later Kaiju films attempt to emulate the Tragic Monster formula, it does not have the same effect this film does, where Tragedy and the consequences that follow affects on a major scale that it includes the monster itself. This is actually the point of the film.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Two, thanks to Godzilla vs. Destoroyah
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    • The last thing Serizawa says to Ogata and Emiko is to be together. As we found out in Destoroyah, she did not marry him, as she chose to be Serizawa's wife posthumously.
    • From the same film, Serizawa destroyed the plans and notes for the Oxygen Destroyer so that it could never be used again. The weapon ends up creating one of Godzilla's deadliest opponents, Destoroyah.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Homegrown Hero: The film has an all-Japanese cast. When it was dubbed and reedited as Godzilla: King of the Monsters! for American audiences, a subplot was added about an American journalist reporting on Godzilla's rampage.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Initially, this is where people wanted to see: The Big G himself. The other side is where it's a completely different story.
  • Lost in Imitation: It was a horror film. Prior to this and Godzilla Raids Again, all the other films become a sci-fi Kaiju movie with each of their own themes and perks.
  • MST3K Mantra: As the commentary brings up, there are several aspects of the film that you have to ignore in terms of reality for it to work, like the following.
    • If a giant dinosaur got hit with a hydrogen bomb blast, it would probably just kill it.
    • Why would a hydrogen bomb give a dinosaur atomic breath and invulnerability to weapons (remember, this was made 9 years before the first X-Men issue, so the idea of mutant superpowers wasn't in common consciousness yet)
    • A weapon that destroys oxygen doesn't kill everything in the water, it just creates a lot of hydrogen.
    • You can't destroy an element, so the weapon in itself is impossible. Well, you theoretically can, either be splitting the atoms into lighter elements or creating an explosion far worse than any nuclear weapon ever made. But to do either is not possible outside of a laboratory at a minuscule scale.
    • The fact that the weapon simply stops working within Tokyo bay instead of spreading and affecting all water in the world as it logically would.
    • And finally, why the monster seemed compelled to keep attacking Japan when other islands are relatively nearby.
  • Narm: When Emiko is shown Serizawa's experiment, she looks away and is accompanied by a sound that is supposed to sound dramatic but sounds more like the composer fell asleep on the piano.
  • Narm Charm: Despite the comical music when Emiko is shown the Oxygen Destroyer, it is still easily the most terrifying entry in the series it ended up creating, and even today can be seen as pretty scary.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Has its own page.
  • Nightmare Retardant: Despite the often primitive effects, the scary parts of the movie work remarkably well, except for... Godzilla's hand-puppet closeups. His unmoving, shriveled arms are in a constant "about to give a hug" position, and he has Fish Eyes. Combined with the low angles that sometimes make his mouth look like a smile, he looks like all he wants is to hug every building. In another occasion, he turns his head to the side, and ends up looking like one of The Muppets. It also didn't help that Haruo Nakajima could hardly walk in that heavy suit.
  • Older Than They Think: When people think of Godzilla, they refer to the Showa era films, only to overlook this film, which is made in 1954. And thus, any articles about this film will usually be referred as Godzilla (1954).
    • The famous "In Pursuit of Godzilla" theme stems back further in Ifukube's courier, as part of his 1948 violin concerto. This early rendition can be heard in the main titles of this film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NklvxiHk6sE
    • Unlike the later sequels where oftentimes Godzilla gets Denser and Wackier due to Characterization Marches On, nope, not this one. The film has an unusual amount of Nightmare Fuel and TearJerkers (hence its own page) that consequences is actually the main theme of this film. No amount of consequences could amount its level. Not even its second remake.
    • Emiko Yamane, surprisingly, is the first female protagonist, if not the very first in a Godzilla movie. Fans assume it's either Ogata, Serizawa, or her father, but Ogata's role is actually played with and is the Decoy Protagonist. Serizawa's importance only happens near the end of the film, and Kyohei Yamane is Mr. Exposition. While she is no Action Girl like other females leads had, if she didn't actually try to find a way to stop Godzilla for good, Japan would have been a nuclear wasteland.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Kenji Sahara is one of the background characters in the boat scene (he's the guy smoking).
    • Jun Tazaki plays as a politician wanting to keep Godzilla's existence hidden.
  • Sacred Cow: The sacred cow of the franchise. For those who enjoy the Darker and Edgier aspects, this one comes to mind.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: The idea of a monster being created/awakened by nuclear weapons has long been considered a cliche, even by the end of the decade in which Gojira was made. Because of this, modern viewers are more likely to overlook just how different it was from its contemporaries, and how unorthodox it continues to be as a monster movie.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Subtle? No. Effective? Fairly. Something the world needed to hear in the face of a new world war fought with nuclear weapons? Without a doubt.
  • Special Effects Failure: A few scenes. Scene one: A military platoon attacking Godzilla, a soldier oddly moves his head in a strange matter. Scene two: A window close-up shows Godzilla's tail. You can see the overhead wires near the tip. And scene 3: The Diet building is seen crumbling twice.
    • The use of toy fire trucks (manned by very obviously toy firemen) coupled with the sped up footage during the attack on Tokyo scene is very, very obvious.
    • The Circular Drive used to show the firetrucks marshaling to prepare for the attack is just as obvious. There's only one truck!
    • During Godzilla's attack with the train, during a close-up of the legs, you can see the suit folding while he's walking.
      • These failures could easily fall under Narm Charm as well, considering the crew were basically inventing techniques as they went along, and one can't help but feel admiration for a film with such an extensive and experimental use of effects.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Averted with its popular third film, King Kong vs. Godzilla, but played straight as a genre as a whole. Other giant monster movies tried to emulate the "Giant monster is a victim of circumstance", but Godzilla is that tough act that eclipses even King Kong (1933) in terms of tragedy and the consequence of humanity's action. The main difference between this film and others is that characters do realize the monster they're trying to kill is a Tragic Monster. This film on the other hand, the audience finds out on their own, but the characters do not, and they ended up killing an innocent monster that is actually the victim of the same warfare as Japan did. The 2016 reboot, Shin Godzilla even ups the ante by giving it a sympathetic Godzilla that mutates out of his control. After all, the series as a whole was based on Japan's real-life post-war tragedies.
  • Values Resonance: The film's message remains powerful and almost universally accepted today. And to think that 60 years ago, humanity was on the verge of blowing itself up.
  • Vindicated by History: Prior to the debut of the film, the film received very negative reviews due to its Too Soon and Nuclear Weapons Taboo imagery. However like its American counterpart King Kong (1933) in Japan, the film was highly praised in America in 2004, where it gained two DVD releases by Classic Media and the Criterion Collection.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: One of the Scenery Porn scenes is when Godzilla heads to the ocean after being discovered is a well-executed map painting.
  • What an Idiot!: So Godzilla has been found out to be the cause of the ships gone missing.
    • You expect: The government officials to listen to Dr. Yamane when he clearly points out no conventional weaponary can kill Godzilla, and he absolutely hates lights.
    • Instead: They try to kill him in the sea (which clearly didn't work), ignore Dr. Yamane's fact of Godzilla being immune to conventional weaponary, have a small platoon to deal with him in his first raid, bombarding the thing when he crosses the electrical towers, and continue attacking him when he has a Breath Weapon. All the course of the second act. Let's not forget they were waving their lights when he surfaced, something Dr. Yamane told the military not to do.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Nope. Unlike the other Lighter and Softer sequels that were often gears towards children, this film is the total opposite, with its imagery of the tragedies Japan has fallen twice over and an ending that's still depressing to this day. This film points out the horrors of nuclear weapons and how that tragedy can create consequences, and how that consequences create tragedy.
  • The Woobie: Where do we even start?
    • Daisuke Serizawa: A horrifically scarred World War II vet who wears an eyepatch, Serizawa is a chemist who just wanted to study the element oxygen. However, in one of his researches, he created the Oxygen Destroyer by pure accident and feared its use as a new superweapon since the nuclear bombs. To say that Ogata wanted to use it against Godzilla proved his Humans Are Bastards viewpoint, but relents after seeing the utter destruction of Tokyo after Godzilla's raid. In the end, he willingly chooses to sacrifice his own life so that the woman he loved ends up with the man she loves and prevent being forced to make another one.
    • Kyohei Yamane, an implied widowed paleontologist, simply wanted to study Godzilla out of pure scientific discovery. But the government proves that they simply want to get rid of him. He ends up having to agree with the government's decision to kill Godzilla, and when Serizawa does kill him, he laments that either Godzilla is the last member of his species, or there's another one out in the world.
    • The entire population of Tokyo. Once living a normal life, the appearance of Godzilla causes them to fear him by simply existing. Godzilla's actions has already caused grieving families and friends, kills Masaji and his mother (mind you, he survived Godzilla's third attack at sea) leaving Shinkichi an orphan, and attacks Tokyo twice over, giving a grim reminder of both the Tokyo Fireraids, and Hiroshima. In the end, hundreds, if not millions, including children are dead or dying of radiation poisoning or burns, and their fear of Godzilla will follow them in decades to come.
    • Godzilla is a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds version. He was a once a simple Godzillasaurus living in underground caverns until one day an H-Bomb set off, giving him scars that resemble radiation burns, and powers that he had no idea he can use. Because of this, he vents his frustrations on the populace, and once he's done, he simply wanted to rest in peace. Unlike the 50's Nuclear Nasty monsters and an Anthropomorphic Personification of the weapon that gave him his powers, Godzilla stands out as the prime example of a Tragic Monster/villain whose mutation was not of his choice to begin with, and his death has no epic fanfare. It is nothing but Tragedy altogether.
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