Godzilla: The Japanese Original (1954)

While the great Japanese films of the 1950s like Rashomon, Ugetsu and Seven Samurai have been revered in the U.S. as works of art, Japan’s biggest domestic hit of all, GODZILLA, has been fondly regarded here as a classic of “cheesy” moviemaking. But that’s because it’s long been known only in an American version known as Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which deleted 40 minutes of the Japanese original – its very heart – while adding poorly-matched, shot-in-Hollywood scenes of Raymond Burr watching the action from the sidelines. Leaving less than an hour of the original’s 98 minutes, the cuts eliminated entirely its strong anti-nuclear theme – with Godzilla seen as a metaphor for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – and, oddly, all of its strong black humor. Directed by Ishirô Honda, who later went on to make such other classics of kaiju eiga (“strange creature movies”) as Rodan, Mothra and The H-Man, often collaborating with special effects legend Eiji Tsuburaya, GODZILLA’s human star is Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura (who played the Seven Samurai leader the same year). Both the Japanese and American versions spawned six decades of sequels, remakes and rip-offs – and fans. In honor of GODZILLA’s 60th anniversary, the TCM Classic Film Festival is proud to present the uncut Japanese original.

World premiere restoration from the original 35mm fine grain and presented in collaboration with Rialto Pictures.

Dir. Ishiro Honda

Godzilla®, Gojira and the character design are trademarks of Toho Co., Ltd. © 1954 Toho Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

In attendance: Gareth Edwards, Eddy von Mueller, Bruce Goldstein