When we speak of Godzilla movies, we’re talking about two different things, both celebrated to some degree in Guillermo del Toro’s loving kaiju-big-battle homage Pacific Rim. There’s the genre of wrasslers in rubber suits flattening HO-scale cities — the irresistibly kitschy spectacles even CGI-jaded modern-day grade-schoolers love.
And then there’s Ishiro Honda’s 1954 original, a different beast entirely: a grim, seething attempt to grapple with the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by converting unleashed nuclear power into monstrous metaphorical terms. (In the midst of the Cold War, it probably registered with a lot of Americans as a fable about the nationalism they’d just vanquished still lying in wait.)
If you think of the Gojira movies exclusively as kid stuff — something the promising new remake seems eager to trample — it’s worth seeing the 60th anniversary restoration of the impressive original on the big screen, the kickoff to an entire month of Belcourt creature-classic matinees including Mothra (May 17-18, also featuring Kurosawa great Takashi Shimura), the unsurpassed original King Kong (May 24-26), and that deathless grudge match King Kong vs. Godzilla (May 31-June 1).
Before you go, read Jim Shepard's novella "Master of Miniatures," which appears in his short-story collection You Think That's Bad: it's a hauntingly detailed immersion in the unyielding will of Godzilla's special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya. (You can get to it here.) And if you missed NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook this morning, the second hour is a great piece on the history, import and legacy of the original Godzilla. Let out that ear-piercing roar — the sound of a didgeridoo in a hurricane — and enjoy.