The British Film Institute is proud to present for the first time on DVD the original, uncut, Japanese Godzilla. Made in 1954, Godzilla was Japan's first foray into big budget sci fi - costing ten times the budget of the average Japanese feature and twice as much as Seven Samurai - released the same year. The film created a monster that would enter the lexicon of popular culture, spawn fifty years of sequels and inspire a new genre: the kaiju eiga or Japanese monster movie.
Directed by Ishiro Honda, a friend and collaborator of Akira Kurosawa, and starring Takashi Shimura as the revered paleontologist who uncovers the horrible secret at the heart of the monster (Godzilla is a long dormant Jurassic beast awoken by the atom bomb), the original Godzilla is a fierce indictment of the atomic age. Sold to an American distributor, the film was cut, dubbed into English, re-titled Godzilla: King of the Monsters! and new scenes were added starring Raymond Burr as an American reporter observing the monsters rampage from the sidelines. All trace of the anti-nuclear message was excised in the American version.
Now regarded as one of the great classics of cinema and still rated amongst the top twenty Japanese movies of all time, the original Godzilla is perhaps the definitive monster movie - both a bold metaphor for the atomic age and a thrilling tour de force of pioneering special effects.
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