My first introduction to the Godzilla franchise, was the 1998 Roland Emmerich remake when I was 13 years old. Back then, I believed that the film was trying to focus on the environmental impact that humans were having on the world through the testing of weapons of war. After seeing the original 1954 film by Toho, I realised I was not far off the mark. However, the real story is far, far deeper. Drawing parallels between WWII and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and human destruction of each other.
My fascination with the original movie as I watched, however, was not just how deep the story was. Or, in fact, how incredibly dialog driven most of the scenes were, where politicians and media outlets were at war with each other on how much information they believed the public was to be given. Though, I am disappointed (not surprised though) at the bastardization of the original in the American remake.
No, my attraction was in the artistry, the details in the miniatures, the costuming, makeup, and the special effects that were used at a time where animation was still using hand drawn cells. I often forget the amount of effort that needed to go into making movies before the digital age took over, and everything became about 3D animation. Of course, I laughed at the puppet Godzilla, and then at the fact it was a man in a suit. I was quite disappointed that it was not stop motion. How far we have come from the painted back drops kind of made me a little sad. Blue screens certainly have their place, and the level of detail you can have now because of this invention, is, amazing. But you cannot not love these beautifully detailed sets knowing that someone laboured over it for several days for it to be used in a scene that might last only a few seconds. The little houses that were made for the sole purpose of being stomped on, but you can see every little tile, the little windows, the little trees and cars. No detail was skipped over, it was amazing. The little tricks that were used to make Godzilla seem more believable. Lack of lighting, or close up shots of little details of the costume, and only showing the full body for short amounts of time. When you consider the limitations, they had, makes this movie even more amazing.
The movies I often love the most are the ones where there are little or no special effects. These are often the scarier movies, the thrillers that suck me in right away. While I am aware that the genre of Godzilla is Sci-fi, I feel it fits more into the horror/thriller genre purely based on the depth of the story line, as well as some of the more emotion driven scenes. After watching the original I really want to watch the rest of the movies made in the franchise, all 32 of them.