aka Godzilla, il re dei mostri
Now the film begins, with the dropping of the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima! That’s new! The subtitle tells us that it is Augusts 6, 1945, thus we know the bomb is being dropped. We get plenty of stock shots showing a bustling Hiroshima and many people living their lives, ignoring their Pacific aggression and cheering on Chinese/Korean/Philippines occupation. The bomb is dropped, things explode, a mushroom rises up, and soon we get lots and lots of shots of a destroyed Hiroshima. The mushroom cloud is red-colored, because the first atomic bomb was cinnamon flavored. The flyover of destroyed buildings is set to a synth-ish style song that wouldn’t be out of place at a modern techno-rave, and we get some shots of real dead bodies also. After three minutes of this, we get to the title, and then the credits of both previous Godzilla versions as well as the new changes. As stated earlier, Luigi Cozzi is the new director, Alberto Moro did the new music assembly, and Armando Valcuda did the Spectorama 70 colorizing.
It is now August 6, 1954, and we see the familiar destroyed cityscape opening of Godzilla, King of the Monsters. Notice how it is the same date? Cozzi isn’t one to hit flies with flyswatters, he had to bring his bazooka. Despite the Italian language, the film proceeds as normal for a while…
American Reporter Steve Martin emerges from beneath the rubble. He was in Tokyo on layover for a social call, but ended up covering the story of the century. He was on layover from a flight to Cairo (in Africa) and the plane stopped in Tokyo (in Asia) because he was flying Wrong Way Airlines, the wackiest airline in the skies. Martin heads to the hospital to insert himself into the aftermath scenes there, and speaks to Momoko Kochi, whom Steve knows. Actually, he speaks to her body double, as they didn’t film new scenes with the actors from the original film. They don’t tell you until a few minutes later, but I’ll spoil it here, Steve Martin visited Tokyo to see his old college friend, Dr. Daisuke Serizawa. Dr. Serizawa is engaged to Momoko Yamane, who is the daughter of Dr. Yamane, Dr. Serizawa’s mentor. We’ll ignore how a American Reporter became best buds with an antisocial Japanese scientist until later. The scenes in the hospital are chilling, in their shots of injured people, radioactive children, and crying orphans.
The original Japanese shots of people injured (something that was rarely shown again until Godzilla 1985) is not ramped up by stock shots of more real dead people, one of the few times Cozzi didn’t enhance the violence. He’s like a deranged George Lucas, except he would be digitally adding hundreds of dead Ewoks. Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad idea…
Steve begins his flashbacks. He arrives in Tokyo via plane, but his friend Dr. Serizawa is busy, but sends an assistant to greet him, as it’s easier to insert Martin into the story this way. The entire plane’s passenger list is questioned by the police, as they passed over a ship that was destroyed by a mysterious force. Steve is brought into the control room that was in the real film, and then scenes follow explaining the back-story, as Martin’s translator acts as a speaking subtitle. Yes, the flashback is having a flashback recap.
Here, the film diverges. In the original version, the search ships are destroyed looking for the missing vessel, and they are special effects shots. They have been replaced with shots of real WW2 footage of ships being destroyed. Japan must have the biggest Navy in the Pacific, if all these ships are hers. But then after they are all sunk Japan should be back to zero ships. This is post-disarmament treaty Japan, after all! After the many stock ships are destroyed, the film picks up back with the original version.
Great minds meet in the meeting, including the afore mentioned Dr. Yamane, whom Steve has met via Dr. Serizawa (how often does Steve go to Japan? The life of an American Reporter!) “‘Fraid my Japanese is a little rusty,” says Steve, giving his translator more time to translate the meeting. His translator seems to be a high ranking police officer or military man, showing the importance of American Reporters. The ships are all disappearing around Odo island, and the natives are frightened. I’d be frightened as well if the shape shifter from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was terrorizing my island, sinking ships, and turning into handbags. The Japanese officials decide to investigate.
They also leave by boat, which never made much sense to me. There is an amazing amount of people at the docks cheering them on, and Steve’s shots are always separate from Dr. Yamane, Emiko, and Ogata due to the nature of being edited in two years later.
The group stays the night amid rumors of a monster, and Steve witnesses a ceremony the natives perform to protect themselves from Godzilla. That night, a super storm hits (perhaps, the Perfect Storm???) and the natives claim it’s Godzilla! That would make a Perfect Storm in my book. Large pieces of this scene are chopped out from the original.
Well, the storm is back to around its full length, except with shots from 1960′s and 1970′s storms spliced in at little segments. It is not detectable at first, but when you notice one or two reaction shots reused you start to notice why. The film the skips the natives being questioned in Tokyo, and jumps to…
Dr. Yamane strolls around with a Geiger Counter, detecting radioactivity, but discovering a trilobite. A living trilobite, which is odd since they’ve been extinct for 250 million years. This discovery isn’t dwelt on much, as the natives sound the warning because Godzilla is here! They ring the Godzilla Bell of Dangerous Danger! The people run for the hills, though Steve stops in the middle of the rush to straighten his tie. We finally get to see the Big G as he peeks his head out over the side of the mountain. Godzilla is the old school model, complete with ears and fangs that will vanish by the time of King Kong vs. Godzilla, but reappear when rebooted in Godzilla 1985.
Later, Dr. Yamane explains that dinosaurs have been extinct for 2 million years. He’s only 63 million years off. Oddly enough, that’s a direct translation from Gojira, where they also state 2 million years, so the translators did a literal job, but failed to do any fact checking. Perhaps Dr. Yamane was speaking in dog years, or maybe Godzilla years.
A note here, the Italian version also mentions “2 million years”! This science error is in three languages!
The theory is Godzilla survived but was hidden until H-bombs made him radioactive and ticked off. He must have been hiding with his pet trilobite, and is now ticked off because it ran away. The Japanese Government decides to use SONAR to find Godzilla, and then depth bombs to kill him (or so they think!) Steve calls “Dr. Serizawa” (this time the body double is hidden behind tubes and pipes) and Emiko comes over to tell Serizawa about Ogata, but instead he shows her the oxygen destroyer weapon
wtfFILM notes that there is an additional music cue in the section that I did not catch. Cozzi, you deranged bastard! (Actually, he might be making up for the generally silent film, even though the American version also ramps up the music from the very silent 1954 original.)
It’s Depth Charge Time! Dr. Yamane is upset that Godzilla is to be destroyed instead of studied, because he is pre-Godzilla thinking.
Except it is not Depth Charge Time! Most of it is replaced by more WW2 stock footage. I guess Japan didn’t loose their entire navy, but more ships are show shooting their guns into the ocean than fought in the Battle of Midway. It also goes on for a longer time, dragging on an on. After the History Channel, WW2 footage by itself is no longer super-exciting, you need a narrator telling us how the Nazis were facing defeat or the Japanese were all about honor.
The film jumps to the Godzilla attacking Tokyo scene like normal, except the ship where people are partying that first spot him gets attacked. This is especially odd, as in the lengthier Gojira version one of the women on the boat tells about how she survived the bombing of Nagasaki and thus wants to enjoy life because she’s lucky to be alive. Thus she may be killed thanks to Italy. We’ll just go with the theory that she is one of the people who get to the life boats in the stock shots of people escaping off a flaming boat. We then go back to familiar territory, with the military attacking ineffectively. Godzilla then does the classic scene of him destroying the train, which turns into a train-destroying jamboree as stock shots of all sorts of trains exploding are put in. Two of the trains even crash into each other, I am hard pressed to blame that on Godzilla. Also, many of the locomotives are old coal-types from the old west, making me wonder how old some of these shots are. Godzila leaves like normal.
We jump to reel two (as a title card tells us) and they are planning the defense of Tokyo.
Steve’s translator explains the new plan is to set up a wall of electric power lines around Tokyo that will fry anything that tries to get through them. 300,000 Volts of electricity surging through the lines. The city is evacuated. Godzilla emerges again later that night. The first thing he does is head right for the electric lines, like he’s drawn there magnetically. We all know those power lines ain’t going to stop him, and Big G smashes and fire breaths his way through them. Now Tokyo is defenseless, and Godzilla flames houses, buildings, people, fuel tanks, business, and military tanks.
Much of this scene is a big mess. Shots of Godzilla using his breath are reused again and again, as all sorts of things explode, thanks to stock footage. Godzilla seems to be shooting each separate building with a full blast of breath. That is some sort of OCD behavior that Godzilla hasn’t displayed since. The scene where a mother is holding her three children in a burning building and telling them that soon they will be with their dead father is still included, and still untranslated. but in the middle of shots of actual dead people, and many stock shot buildings being destroyed, it loses even what little impact it had left for the unknowing. The tape is also half-destroyed, maybe it survived the attack on the city, as it becomes choppy as well.
Godzilla dislikes Steve Martin, and tries to smash him as well, but we know he makes it, as he’s narrating the flashback. Godzilla also eats a tower that a very excited Japanese journalist is in, thanks to no translation, we don’t know that he’s narrating his own demise like a samurai warrior or something instead of running like anyone with some sense would do. He isn’t narrating a flashback, so he’s out of the picture.
Jets arrive and start firing sparklers at Godzilla.
People cheer like in the original, but instead of the jets driving off Godzilla quickly, WW2 stock shots return. This time, we get to see pilots starting their “Zero” planes, and B-2 Bombers. Bombers load up and fighters attack, Godzilla destroying many of them. We keep cutting to the same shot of Godzilla shooting his breath and back to different shots of things exploding, footage of burning buildings,
FLASHBACK OVER. It’s present time (well, present for 1954/1956) Emiko tells Steve and Ogata about the oxygen destroyer (Steve is inserting himself into scenes again.) Emiko and Ogata go to talk to Serizawa about using the weapon. Serizawa is against it, as he doesn’t want it to fall into evil hands. But Ogata fails to convinces him (after a brief scuffle) to use it, but a national prayer for the survivors does. So Serizawa burns his notes. Godzilla is asleep in Tokyo Harbor, so Ogata and Serizawa dive down to operate the device.
Diving is fun, but so is padding the film with the shark vs. octopus fight from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms intercut with reaction shots of Serizawa and Ogata. I am sure they would have just dropped everything and stared at the struggle of nature for three minutes straight like they do in the film.
Godzilla wakes up and notices the two divers. Ogata goes back up first, so Serizawa can turn on the device. He does so, but then cuts his line, so he can’t be rescued. The Oxygen Destroyer will kill him as well. The Oxygen destroyer acts like it turns the surrounding water all bubbly, like it’s soda going flat at an accelerated rate. Godzilla pops up for one last scream before sinking back to the depths
Except in this version his sinking is enhanced by many battleships firing their guns at him. After all the ships he’s destroyed, Japan still has a massive navy. Finally, he sinks into the sea, and turns into a skeleton, at which point the movie abruptly stops. For a movie that desperately tries to be more anti-military than a hippie orgy, they suddenly do a 180 at the end and have the military give an assist in finishing the battle. This flies in the face of what Toho was trying to do, and even destroys their continued tributes to Dr. Serizawa (and actor Akihiko Hirata) by having the military unable to duplicate the oxygen destroying weapon.
wtfFILM is convinced (as am I due to the lack of end credits) that the film goes on a bit longer. Maybe one day the missing sections will be found. Cozzi might even have a good copy of the film himself somewhere, or one of his friends who worked on it. Until then, it remains one of the oddest entries in the Godzilla canon. Okay, it isn’t canon, but it is odd, and it is interesting to see once. I won’t be watching it often, but I would check out a restored version to see the changes. Not many have seen this version, so I thank wtfFILM for making it available. Again, if you want to see the film or check out wtfFILM, you can click here.
Before we go, we must have an interview!
Thus concludes the last of March of Godzilla 2! Join us again next year for the next theme, and soon for the next movie. Godzilla might return before next year, as we have gotten a hold of some really neat stuff we are excited to try to bring to you. Jet Jaguar himself might be returning…
Rated 5/10 (Nixon Mask, Trilobite, Cozzilla’s roar, Eyepatch Jones, Cozzilla warning bell)