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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