Last week in DIGC330 with Chris, we discussed assumptions, and epiphanies in relation to our text. We were asked to revisit the text we looked at, and analyse our assumptions in an autoethnographical way and come to some conclusions/epiphanies through personal research.
One of the many points to autoethnography is the idea that there is no right or wrong way to look at a text, as it depends how we see it. But it is safe to say I was quick to judge the 1954 film Gojira. Although I don’t believe I was ‘wrong’, I used previous assumptions from cultural and social background context of the film to sway my first viewing.
After doing some research on the film, I noted the distinct differences to using the title Gojira compared to using Godzilla. Growing up, nobody ever used the word Gojira to describe this monster movie, either because they didn’t know the original name or they simply didn’t care. Gojira is, the original Japanese film, and the name Gozdilla replaced Gojira when it was released in the US as “Godzilla – King of the Monsters” in 1956. The US version included an American man edited in among the original film. I watched this film this week and noticed a few differences…
In 2004, The Japanese original film was released, unedited, with English subtitles, which showed that the US version cut out the original ending where Dr. Yamane warns the audience of repeated nuclear testing, saying “If we keep on conducting nuclear tests, its possible that another Gojira might appear somewhere in the world, again.” This was replaced with a happy ending, where the American Mr. Martin says “The whole world could wake up and live again.”
So why did the US cut out such an important and poignant message that clearly changed the overall tone of the film? Was it to simply satisfy its US audience? For me, it distinguished two different countries perspectives on nuclear weapons and testing during the fifties. As Olivia Umphrey highlights, “Gojira is a not just a monster laying waste to a city, but a commentary on environmental and nuclear politics.” (2009)
Only a decade after Hiroshima, the Japanese are aware that this kind of catastrophe could happen again, whereas the Americans back then, were brought up believing they were safe with Nuclear weapons, they believed that humanity would eventually win.
Looking at the social and cultural perceptions during the 1950’s, it’s easy to see both perspectives, and the American version, (which at first seemed ridiculous and a little racist) makes a lot more sense given the context of America and Nuclear warfare during the 1950’s.