As expected, this is better than the terrible American version in basically every way. It’s still a goofy mess but at least it’s authentically so, with a fun weird story and some epic moments.

japan, 1963, japanese


King Kong vs. Godzilla

It’s become an almost comical tradition around here that I first tell you how long it’s been since I watched the film I’m writing about. That said, this one will hopefully be the record. I watched this more than a month ago, with some caveats. Those being that I first watched the terrible American version and then slowly made my way through the much, much better Japanese version. I finally finished that a few days ago.

This is the transition of Godzilla from a commentary on post-war Japanese atomic angst to a superhero format. No longer is there really any message to be found, just comedy, absurdity, and an attempt at action. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. To much of an attempt at allegory starts to become very tiresome. Still, I think I’ll miss the lack of a bigger picture. Or maybe I won’t. There’s nothing wrong with ice cream, as long as you don’t eat it everyday.

The Japanese version of this is a lot of fun. I read that this is an attempt to allude to popular “salaryman” comedies of the time. I haven’t really watched any of those, but if this is what they are like I think I probably should. The boss here is absolutely hilarious, and I guess there actually is a commentary in this film about Japanese post-war post-economic-recovery consumption and a lack of intellectual depth.

The American version is exactly as terrible as you probably already imagine it is. It removes any subtlety or authenticity. Which is really saying something given that this is a movie about a giant dinosaur fighting a giant gorilla. Still, the American version is pandering in a way that the Japanese one absolutely isn’t. That’s a fascinating look at the differences between the two cultures right there.