As part of my MFA program, I’m taking a class on monsters in the horror genre. I watched the movie Godzilla (2014), directed by Gareth Edwards, as an assignment for that class. The below blog post may contain spoilers.
I feel like I’m at a bit of a disadvantage here because this is the first Godzilla movie I’ve ever scene. Sure, I’ve seen bits and pieces of the original, but not enough to figure out the plot. Still, I’m familiar with the franchise, so I hope I don’t see anything completely ridiculous about it in this post. Feel free to call me out if I do.
I believe Godzilla was originally an allegory for the atomic bomb, in that he is a monstrous thing capable of leveling entire cities. He is the king of monsters, in the same way that the atomic bomb is the king of weapons. This was of course an important thing for Japan to comment on at the time of the first Godzilla movie, which was released in Japan in 1954.
Godzilla also works as a representation of humanity in general. On our planet, humans are capable of both great good and great evil. We are the giants, with our complex brains and opposable thumbs. And of course, humans created the atomic bomb. If there’s any creature capable of destroying our planet—and of being the king of monsters—it’s us.
As Serizawa was so fond of saying in the movie, Godzilla is capable of returning the balance to the planet. Although humans conceivably have the ability to return balance, more often we tend to throw things out of balance with our attempts to make the world more comfortable for ourselves—with only minimal concern for other creatures or for the planet’s future.
Of course, this movie makes Godzilla the savior. When two MUTOs (massive unidentified terrestrial organisms) emerge from the earth, Godzilla awakes to return balance to the world. In this case, returning balance means a monster fight on the edge of San Francisco. Godzilla eventually manages to kill both MUTOs before returning to the depths of the ocean.
But Godzilla could just as easily have destroyed the city single-handedly. In fact, if I understand correctly from earlier movies in the franchise, Godzilla has previously wreaked havoc rather than reeled it in. Like humans, he is capable of great things, but it’s up to him whether he saves lives or destroys them.
Before I wrap up this post, I want to add that I loved this movie. In general, I love movies where giant entities battle. Another example of this is Pacific Rim, which I adored. My one disappointment with Godzilla is that I would have liked to see Godzilla and a human right next to each other (or the human on top of Godzilla) in at least one scene. I feel like I can’t fully appreciate how monstrously large Godzilla is when he’s always standing next to giant architecture or the MUTOs, which are also quite large.
I would definitely watch this movie again; I’d even add it to my movie collection.