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New Restoration of Uncut 'Godzilla: The Japanese Original' to Premiere at TCM Film Fest, Followed by Rialto Release

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by Beth Hanna
February 18, 2014 1:35 PM
1 Comment
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'Godzilla: The Japanese Original'
'Godzilla: The Japanese Original'

Exciting news of monstrous proportions: A new restoration of classic “Godzilla: The Japanese Original,” which spawned six decades of sequels, imitations and remakes, is set to debut April 12 at the fifth TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. It then gets a national release from Rialto Pictures, kicking off at New York’s Film Forum, April 18-24.

Originally released stateside in 1956 as “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” Ishiro Honda’s masterwork suffered from an atrociously cut, dubbed and re-edited version that inserted American actor Raymond Burr into the action. Only one hour was used of the original’s 98 minute running time. 

Burr does not appear in the original, uncut version, which has an all-Japanese cast including Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura (“The Seven Samurai”). With special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, “Godzilla: The Japanese Original” is much darker in tone, with the monster working as a clear metaphor for nuclear menace.

It became Toho Studio’s #1 box office hit of 1954, and had such worldwide success that the company has since produced nearly 30 sequels and remakes. (In terms of Hollywood remakes: Roland Emmerich directed the bad 1998 version; meanwhile, Warner Bros. new “Godzilla” reboot is hitting theaters May 16.)

Criterion put out "Godzilla" on Blu-ray in 2012. Check out their "Three Reasons" video below; it will cement your plans to catch this one in theaters.

1 Comment

  • Brian | February 18, 2014 3:06 PMReply

    "Originally released stateside in 1956 as “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” Ishiro Honda’s masterwork suffered from an atrociously cut, dubbed and re-edited version that inserted American actor Raymond Burr into the action. Only one hour was used of the original’s 98 minute running time."

    I'd like to respond to this. As someone who has watched both the original GOJIRA and the American reedit, GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS, many times each, sometimes back-to-back, I feel a need to defend the American cut. For many Baby Boomers, it was our very first glimpse of Japanese cinema. No one had ever imported a foreign special effects genre film to the U.S. before. The decision to recut it and add an American actor was considered necessary to make it palatable to American audiences a mere eleven years after fighting a brutal war with the nation that made the film. It seemed to work, because the film was quite a hit when it was released here. Its success paved the way for more Japanese monster/sci-fi films to be released here--relatively intact, with no need for American actors to be added to the casts (with a handful of exceptions). GIGANTIS, THE FIRE MONSTER (aka GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN), RODAN, THE MYSTERIANS and THE H-MAN all got imported from Japan and released in the U.S. before 1960. By the time GODZILLA premiered on TV in 1958, Raymond Burr had become a huge TV star in "Perry Mason," thereby adding to the film's visibility, and every kid in the country watched it. Some of us went on to develop a keen interest in all things Japanese. Nine years later, I would read Ian Fleming's James Bond novel, "You Only Live Twice," and see the movie based on it, both set in Japan and filled with Japanese lore. 13 years after seeing GODZILLA, while still in high school, I'd see my first Japanese movie with English subtitles, the three-and-a-half-hour original cut of SEVEN SAMURAI. GODZILLA opened so many doors, including the eventual release of the Japanese original, GOJIRA, which I first saw in a theater in New York in 1982. I wrote about it in a fanzine I published that year. The rest, as they say, is history. Plus, the last few times I've watched GODZILLA, I'm impressed with how much of the spirit of the original is retained and how many scenes there are that remain in Japanese without dubbing.

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