Godzilla (ゴジラ, Gojira ) is a popular series of giant monster films starring Godzilla, a Japanese creation usually portrayed by a man in a latex rubber suit. Starting in 1954, the Godzilla series has become one of the longest running film series in movie history.
The first film, Godzilla, was first released in the United States in 1955 in Japanese-American communities only. In 1956, it was adapted by an American company into Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, edited and with added principal scenes featuring Raymond Burr, and this version became an international success.
The original Godzilla was greatly inspired by the commercial success of the 1952 re-release of King Kong, and the 1953 success of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Godzilla would go on to inspire Gorgo, Gamera, Cloverfield, and many others.
The name "Godzilla" is a romanization, by the film production company Toho Company Ltd., of the original Japanese name "Gojira" — which is a combination of two Japanese words: gorira (ゴリラ) 'gorilla' and kujira (鯨, くじら) 'whale'. The word alludes to the size, power and aquatic origin of Godzilla.
The Godzilla series is generally broken into three eras reflecting a characteristic style and corresponding to the same eras used to classify all 'daikaiju eiga' (monster movies) in Japan. The first two eras refer to the Japanese emperor during production: the Shōwa era, and the Heisei era. The third is called the Millennium era as the emperor (Heisei) is the same but these films are considered to have a different style and storyline than the prior era.
Shōwa series (1954–1975)
The initial series of movies is named for the Shōwa period in Japan (as all of these films were produced before Emperor Hirohito's death in 1989). This Shōwa timeline spanned from 1954, with Gojira, to 1975, with Terror of Mechagodzilla. With the exceptions to the sequels Godzilla Raids Again, King Kong vs. Godzilla, and Mothra vs. Godzilla, much of this series is relatively light-hearted. Starting with Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla began evolving into a more human and playful antihero (this transition was complete by Son of Godzilla, where he is shown as a good character), and as years went by, he evolved into an anthropomorphic superhero. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster was also significant for introducing Godzilla's archenemy and the main antagonist of the series, King Ghidorah. The films Son of Godzilla and All Monsters Attack were aimed at youthful audiences, featuring the appearance of Godzilla's son, Minilla. While Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla was notable for introducing Godzilla's robotic arch foe and secondary villain of the movie series Mechagodzilla. The Shōwa period saw the addition of many monsters into the Godzilla continuity, two of which (Mothra and Rodan) had their own solo movies. This period featured a well documented continuity, although the 1968 film Destroy All Monsters takes place in 1999 (chronologically making it the final original Godzilla movie).
Heisei series (1984–1995)
The timeline was revamped in 1984 with The Return of Godzilla; this movie was created as a direct sequel to the 1954 film, and ignores the continuity of the Shōwa series. Because of this, the original Godzilla movie is considered part of the Heisei series instead of being a part of the Showa series. The continuity ended in 1995's Godzilla vs. Destoroyah after a run of seven films. The "new" Godzilla was portrayed as much more of an animal than the latter Shōwa films, or as a destructive force as he began. The biological nature and science behind Godzilla became a much more discussed issue in the films, showing the increased focus of the moral focus on genetics. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah gave the first concrete birth story for Godzilla, featuring a Godzillasaurus that got mutated by radiation into Godzilla.
Millennium series (1999–2004)
The Millennium Series is the official term for the series of Godzilla movies, unofficially called the "Shinsei Series" (or even the "Alternate Reality Series") by American fans, made after the Heisei series ended with Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. The common theme to this era is that all movies use Godzilla (1954) as the jumping-off point. Since the films are different, the sizes are different in some cases. Godzilla's most prominent size in this series is 55 meters (180 feet). In Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack he was 60 meters (about 196 feet), and in Godzilla: Final Wars he was 100 meters tall (about 328 feet). Godzilla was originally supposed to be 50 meters (about 164 feet) in Final Wars, but budgetary cutbacks in miniature sets forced this size change.
The first talk of an American version of Godzilla was when director Steve Miner pitched his own take to Toho in the 1980s. "The idea was to do a Godzilla film as if it was the first one ever done, a big-budget American special FX movie." Miner said. "Our Godzilla would have been a combination of everything - man-in-suit, stop-motion and other stuff." Fred Dekker had written the screenplay. "We had a big Godzilla trying to find its baby. It's a bit of a Gorgo storyline. The big ending has Godzilla destroying San Francisco. The final Godzilla death scene was to be on Alcatraz Island." Toho and Warner Bros. were said to be very interested in Miner's take but it eventually became too expensive.
In October 1992, Toho allowed Sony Pictures to make a trilogy of English-language Godzilla films, with the first film to be released in 1994. In May 1993 Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio were brought on to write a script, and in July 1994 Jan de Bont, director of Speed and Twister, signed on to direct. DeBont quit due to budget disputes, and director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin signed on before the release of the highly successful Independence Day. They rejected the previous script and Patrick Tatopoulos radically redesigned the titular monster. The film was finally scheduled for release on May 19, 1998.
Godzilla was met with mostly negative reviews and negative reaction from the fan base. Having grossed $375 million worldwide though, the studio moved ahead with a spin-off animated series. Tab Murphy wrote a treatment, but Emmerich and Devlin left the production in March 1999 due to budget disputes. The original deal was to make a sequel within five years of release of a film, but after sitting on their property, considering a reboot, Sony's rights to make a Godzilla 2 expired in May 2003.
After the release of 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars, marking the 50th anniversary of the Godzilla film franchise, Toho announced that it would not produce any films featuring the Godzilla character for ten years. Toho demolished the water stage on its lot used in numerous Godzilla films to stage water scenes. Director Yoshimitsu Banno, who had directed 1971's Godzilla vs. Hedorah, secured the rights from Toho to make an IMAX 3D short film production, based on a remake of the Godzilla vs. Hedorah story. Banno was unable to find backers to produce the film. Banno met American producer Brian Rogers, and the two planned to work together on the project. Rogers approached Legendary Pictures in 2009, and the project became a plan to produce a feature film instead.
In March 2010, Legendary Pictures formally announced the project after it had acquired Godzilla franchise rights from Toho, with a tentative release date of 2012. The project is to be co-produced with Warner Bros., who will co-finance the project. TriStar Pictures will not be co-producing or co-financing because their rights expired in 2003. Legendary plans to make a film that would be an homage to the original 1954 Japanese film Godzilla instead of a sequel to the 1998 American remake also titled Godzilla. The planned film's producers are Dan Lin, Roy Lee, and Brian Rogers, who will work with Legendary's Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni.
Legendary first promoted the planned new film at the San Diego Comic-Con International fan convention in July 2010. Legendary commissioned a new conceptual artwork of Godzilla. The conceptual artwork was consistent with the Japanese design of the Godzilla film monster, rather than Patrick Tatopoulos's design of Godzilla dubbed Zilla seen in the 1998 film and Godzilla: Final Wars. The artwork was used in an augmented reality display produced by Talking Dog Studios. Every visitor to the convention was given a T-shirt illustrated with the concept art. When viewed by webcam at the Legendary Pictures booth, the image on-screen would spout Godzilla's radioactive breath and the distinctive roar of Godzilla could be heard.
Gareth Edwards, who directed Monsters, was attached in January 2011 to direct the new Godzilla film. The first draft screenplay of the film by David Callaham will be rewritten by Edwards. Edwards said of his plans, "This will definitely have a very different feel than the most recent US film, and our biggest concern is making sure we get it right for the fans because we know their concerns. It must be brilliant in every category because I’m a fan as well."
Godzilla was originally an allegory for the effects of the hydrogen bomb, and the consequences that such weapons might have on earth. The radioactive contamination of the Japanese fishing boat Daigo Fukuryū Maru through the United States' Castle Bravo thermonuclear device test on Bikini Atoll, on March 1, 1954 lead to much press coverage in Japan preceding the release of the first movie in 1954. The Heisei and Millennium series have largely continued this concept. Some have pointed out the parallels, conscious or unconscious, between Godzilla's relationship to Japan and that of the United States; first a terrible enemy who causes enormous destruction to the cities of Japan such as Tokyo (Godzilla, The Return of Godzilla), Osaka (Godzilla Raids Again, Godzilla vs. Biollante), and Yokohama (Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack) in different films, but then becoming a good friend and defender in times of peril.
Films have been made over the last five decades, each reflecting the social and political climate in Japan. All but one of the 28 films were produced by Toho.【聯合報╱李清志／文】
《酷斯拉》原本是一部關於反核的電影，描述南太平洋的核彈試爆，造成大型蜥蜴基因突變，成為巨大的異型恐龍，這隻大恐龍每次都順著洋流前往日本，然後登陸 東京，摧毀城市建築。酷斯拉電影基本上反映出日本民眾對核能的集體恐懼，因為日本人是全世界唯一遭受過核彈攻擊的民族，他們對於核能抱持著又愛又恨的矛盾 心態，酷斯拉的威力正如核能一般，巨大卻又令人無法控制。
大恐龍酷斯拉（GODZILLA）是日本東寶株式會社出品最具代表性的怪獸電影，從1954年推出第一部電影以來，至今已有五十多年的歷史，2004年酷 斯拉五十周年慶，好萊塢還為牠辦了慶生會，甚至在大學也舉行關於酷斯拉的學術研討會。這幾年人們甚至在東京有樂町街頭，為大恐龍酷斯拉豎立了一座銅像，酷 斯拉儼然成為了東京城市象徵物之一。
酷斯拉電影的一再拍攝，提醒著日本人核能的恐怖，也讓日本人時時警惕，了解到生活在日本島國的集體危險性。面對這隻巨大怪獸，我們不得不省思人類自己的自 大與愚蠢，核能這隻怪獸原本就是人類無法掌控的巨大力量，我們卻自大地認為「人定勝天」，試圖去製造並控制這隻怪獸，一旦核能災變，卻只能束手無策，悔恨 當初。
因此環保意識強烈的德國，這幾年努力消除對於核電力量的迷戀與依賴，除了停止已經存在的核能電廠之外，也積極開發風力及太陽能發電技術，希望能真正去除核 災酷斯拉的危害；反觀與日本同樣身居島國的我們，連核廢料都不知道如何處理，當局卻仍舊在努力宣傳核能的「乾淨」與「安全」？令台灣民眾每天都生活在核災 的恐懼之中，不知如何是好。