The most famous movie monster since King Kong makes his debut

The Godzilla we grew up with had little to do with the monster who first appeared in Japanese theaters in 1954: An American producer cut 40 minutes from Ishirô Honda’s film, spliced in new footage (of Raymond Burr), and turned a surprisingly great monster movie into the schlock we’d see on Saturday mornings. This week, the Criterion Collection released the Japanese original alongside the American recut; the juxtaposition says a lot about postwar Hollywood, and a brilliant accompanying essay, by J. Hoberman (late of The Village Voice), says quite a bit more. One fun fact? The name Godzilla (or Gojira) combines “the Japanese term for whale (kujira) with the English loanword gorira (gorilla).”

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The most famous movie monster since King Kong makes his debut