Godzilla 1954: the Creation of a Classic

Timelines and Events Leading up to the Creation of the Movie

Written by Barney Buckley

Email Address – bbuckley@triad.rr.com


IntroductionGodzilla_'54_design

This particular story is a drawn out lengthy extension of how the movie Godzilla 1954 actually came to be. It will explain everything ranging from the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima as well as Emperor Hirohito. Also I will be touching on the director Ishiro Honda. The reason I’m doing this it is because I was inspired by the movie “Emperor” that came out in 2012 with Matthew Fox it has a great understanding of what happened after the bombing in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It also does talk about Emperor here he do what he did for his country and this is the reason I am writing out the story it is because of what they endured during the bombings and raids as well as the actual creation of the movie Godzilla 1954 based around these timeline events as well as Ishiro Honda actually going out in postwar Hiroshima actually taken pictures and filming the events and using them in the movie. This is going to be a very long story that is based around this movie and all the events that happened so you get a better understanding and appreciation of what happened during that time.

The Bombing Raids of Nagasaki and Hiroshima

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The event did in fact occur on August 6, 1945 and it was during World War II that occurred from 1939 to 1945 that an American B-29 bomber would drop the world’s 1st actual deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The destructive nature of this atomic bomb at that time literally wiped out over 90% of the entire city killing almost 80,000 people. Now why would our country well aware of his destructive nature to that to these people when these people are merrily just trying to exist and you have politics that are involved in creating the wars between countries and it’s their ignorance is that kill people and that’s exactly what happened to the Japanese people over 80,000 people killed because of political reasons. Also I’d like to mention that there was over tens of thousands more that would later die from radiation exposure so it would be over 90 200,000 people that would die in Hiroshima alone. What these people go through and what they are thinking about us to this day I can only imagine it’s a hateful thing. Also I like to mention that the Japanese military did in fact hit Pearl Harbor and that is a reason why we went over there in the 1st place and drop bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima killing all those people it did in fact make the entire country surrender and you would have to thank Emperor Hirohito for that.

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It would be an additional 3 days later on August 9, 1945 that a 2nd B-29 would drop another bomb on Nagasaki. The 2nd bomb did not kill as many people it only killed 40,000 people so in technical terms it wasn’t that bad but will look and act closed-door and 40,000 people between the 2 cities being killed for political reasons. Emperor Hirohito would eventually announce the country’s unconditional surrender it would have been officially announced on Japanese radio on August 15 even though there were a lot of military from Japan that would go on a search and read for this recording and destroy it as well as assassinate the leader however it failed to do so and was announced on August 15 citing the devastating power of the atomic bomb had killed over 140,000 people.

Here’s something that a lot of people do not know it would be after World War II that most of Hiroshima was in fact rebuilt even though there was one destroyed section never set aside as a reminder of the effects from the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945. The atomic bombs that were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima did in fact have names and they were called “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” respectively.

Emperor Hirohito

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Now I am going to talk about the Showa Series or Showa. Emperor’s name is Emperor Hirohito which by the way I do not believe he has a 1st name because I can’t find his name anywhere. Anyway let’s get a better understanding of who this person is he was born in 1901 and did in fact pass away in 1989 he was the Emperor of Japan from 1926 until his death in 1989. This particular period in Japan is called the Showa. And this is where we get a lot of Association with the Godzilla films there is a Showa Series of films as well as a Heisei Series of films and Shinsei Series of films in this keeps going on. He took over as Emperor during the rising Democratic sediment. Ever hear heat so is the eldest son of Crown Prince Yoshihito who was born on April 9, 1901 within the confines of Aoyama Palace located in Tokyo Japan. Is according to Japanese customs that the Imperial family members are not raised by their parents. Instead Hirohito spent much of his early years in the care of the 1st retired vice Adm. and then with the Imperial attendant. From ages 7 to 19 Hirohito would attend schools set up for children with nobility receiving rigorous instruction in military and religious matters. In 1921 Hirohito had a 34 man entourage travel through Western Europe for at least 6 months and it would be the 1st time that a Japanese crown France had ever gone abroad. A little-known fact that Emperor Hirohito’s son Akihiko is now currently the Emperor of Japan and did in fact broke a 1500 year tradition by marrying a commoner in 1959.

Life after the War for Emperor Hirohito

It would be after the events of Nagasaki and Hiroshima after the war has ended that the Emperor was classified as a mayor symbol of the state. All political power went to our elected representatives. Unlike most of the military brass Emperor Hirohito was not indicted on any kind of war criminals whatsoever in part because the United States authority feared it could throw their occupation into total chaos. It would be from 1945 all the up to 1951 that Hirohito toured the entire country and oversaw all the actual reconstruction efforts to rebuild Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Emperor Hirohito did in fact died on January 7, 1989 having spent nearly 64 years on the throne and he was classified as a lawless Imperial rain in Japanese history. Even to this day Hirohito’s wartime record does remain a subject of much debate.

The Beginning of a Classic Movie

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The producer of the Toho Motion Picture Company Tomoyuki Tanaka was flying home from Jakarta to Tokyo were plans for a Japanese-Indonesian coproduction titled In the Shadow of Honor and literally fall apart and Tomoyuki Tanaka needed to come up with a fellow or an ideal to present to the top brass at The Toho Motion Picture Company. Mr. Tanaka would be nervously sweating and brainstorming all through the flight when he did come up with an ingenious idea and it would be taking a cue from the successful American science fiction film they call “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” the idea was to come up with a dinosaur that was in fact resurrected or reanimate a monster that was created by the use of nuclear weapons and it would serve as a metaphor for the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Those holocausts are still vivid in the Japanese conscience.

Tomoyuki Tanaka would recall at least 10 years later that “mankind had created the bomb, and now nature was going to take revenge on mankind.” It would be 9 years earlier just at the end of World War II that Japan would have suffered a defeat unlike any other nation in history. As we already know the Americans came over with “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” and drop them on the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and after the major damage that it did it was estimated that over 300,000 Japanese people have died from just dropping there’s 2 bombs.

It is during and after the war the Japanese film industry would get a big boom due to the large part that the government’s use of the movie studios to disseminate heavily regulated nationalist propaganda this in fact started a boom in the film industry.

How Godzilla Came to Be

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In the early morning on March 1, 1954 the United States decided to go ahead and detonate a 15 Mt hydrogen bomb which is 750 times more powerful or more explosive than the actual atomic bombs that were used on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. They would detonate this particular bomb near the Bikini Atoll and that was 2500 miles southwest of Honolulu. The explosion that they call Operation Bravo was labeled as just a routine atomic testing by The Atomic Energy Commission. The bloom of radioactive debris that was floating around eastward over 7000 mi.² of the Pacific Ocean had indeed created a nightmare and it would be the wooden Japanese trawler Dai-go Fukurya Maru (the Lucky Dragon #5) this particular trawler was on a tuna fishing trip that was 100 miles east of the Bikini Atoll the boat did have 23 crewmen who were showered with a sticky white radioactive ash and it would be a few hours later that several men did in fact is sick with headaches, nausea, and I irritation, a few days later some of their faces would eventually turn a strange dark color.

The ship’s captain totally confused and what he is seeing did in fact abandon the whole fishing trip and headed back to port which is located at Yaizu in Shizuka Prefecture. It would be 6 months later on September 23 that Aikichi Kuboyama the chief radio operator would eventually die from leukemia in a Tokyo hospital. The last words that he would mutter would be “Please make sure that I am not the last victim of the nuclear bomb.”

There would be 5 other crewmembers that would later die from cancers as well as other diseases related to the bomb. This particular event did inspire Tomoyuki Tanaka and Ishiro Honda to go ahead and create the ever loving classic Godzilla king of the monsters which came out in 1954.

The Actual Making of the Film Godzilla King of the Monsters

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Even before the actual screenplay or storyline was after created the Toho Motion Picture Company picture companies producer Tomoyuki Tanaka did in fact try to work on a tentative title for the film at 1st he like to call it “The Giant Monster from 20,000 Miles beneath the Sea” in this particular task was to be presented to Iwao Imori who was a very powerful executive director for the Toho Company at that time. Riding on the shirttails of the particular fallout-poison fisherman story based on the Lucky Dragon Tomoyuki Tanaka showed it to Mori and in fact it was the right time to show it to him because it was based on a gigantic monster that was stirred from a very long sleeve and it decided to, sure even though it was created by a rapid atomic testing and it did in fact trample Tokyo.

It seems that Tomoyuki Tanaka’s idea was a little outlandish as no Japanese movie studio or whatever attempt to do anything like this. In 1952 RKO pictures who created the film King Kong 1933 did in fact rerelease it internationally with great success in 1952 and that was 2 years before the actual creation of the film Godzilla. Eventually Mori would give Tomoyuki Tanaka permission to go ahead and start doing this spell within the process of doing this they turn around and hired Soho’s chief special-effects man Eiji Tsuburaya when fact was a box office success. Mori told Tomoyuki Tanaka to meet with Eiji Tsuburaya and determine if it was technically feasible to create the film.

By mid-April 1954 Eiji Tsuburaya was definitely on board with the approval of both production and Tomoyuki Tanaka choice for its director it would be Ishiro Honda read work toys with Eiji Tsuburaya on war dramas that featured heavy uses a special effects. Originally Tomoyuki Tanaka wanted the director from “In the Shadow of Honor” his name was Senkichi Taniguchi this was the original director that Tomoyuki Tanaka wanted however this particular director was already reassigned to another film called “The Sound of Waves” and that is why he end up choosing Ishiro Honda which by the way was the best decision that he ever made. The tentative title for this film “The Giant Monster from 20,000 Miles beneath the Sea” was now changed to what is called “giant” and it was to be kept top secret among certain participants.

There would go on to higher Shigeru Kayama to write the original story for this film. Even though today this particular stories and writings are very obscure Kayama was one of the most prominent mystery writers in postwar Japan and because his story sometimes involve mutant reptiles and fish and other monsters they went ahead with his particular writing skill set. It was on May 12, 1954 that Kayama accepted the assignment and made 2 key decisions within the writing of the film 1st the name of the monster was to be called “Gojira” roughly pronounced GO-jee-rah and later it was Anglicized as Godzilla.

Evidence suggests that in the beginning of Kayama’s story the ideals of what the monster would look like what physical form it would have according to Eiji Tsuburaya suggested that the story had been written before years ago and it did inspire his love for King Kong and it was about a gigantic octopus running amok and attacking Japanese fishing boats in the Indian Ocean these are some of the key ideals for the film before the actually created a Marquette of the actual Godzilla that we all know today.

Ishiro Honda Principal Photography

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Ishiro Honda had a photography team that actually want out for 51 days shooting the film in creating the special effects for the film most of it was done on the Toho lot. Examples of the special effects ever done for the film are the Maritime Safety Agency Disaster Center and Dr. Yamani’s house, and the interior of the national diet building as well as Doctor Serizawa’s laboratory. These were done on the Toho lot. The majority of the special-effects were spent on a location they call Shima Peninsula in Mie Prefecture an area that is very familiar to the director Ishiro Honda this is a particular area that he did his very 1st feature film they call “The Blue Pearl” this is also where they created the fictional island Odo Island.

Another special-effects treat is when you see the actual creature sticking his head over top of the hill this is also been done here as well. Another key classic piece for this film was the actual haunting prayer that they call “A Prayer for Peace” sometimes also called “Oh Peace. Oh Light Return” this is the film’s pivotal moment when they have an actual entire student body of all girls in a high school located in Tokyo singing the song. It was also rumored that there was a matted painting there was actually used to make the choir seem larger than it really was but in truth there was more than 2000 girls memorizing the words to the song and melt them in their school auditorium this is a great piece.

I do believe I read somewhere that Ishiro Honda did in fact go out I believe it was located in Hiroshima he went out and took actual photographs of the death devastation from the bomb and actually incorporated it into this movie but don’t quote me on it but I think I read something like that somewhere.

In Conclusion

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As you can see with the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and all the devastation that it created as well as Emperor Hirohito somehow being involved in war crimes but not proven to have any involvement and as you can see there was a pattern that build up to the actual creation of the movie Godzilla 1954 or Godzilla king of the monsters. I thought I put this in perspective to give each and every one of you a greater understanding of what happened and how this movie actually came to be and what the Japanese people have endured during those attacks.

The bottom line is the official total estimate of the production for the film was the most expensive so far within this time being the most expensive it came to a total of ¥62,893,455 or the equivalent of about $900,000 in 1954 US funds making this a most expensive film during this time. It is more than one 3rd of this budget nearly ¥27 million went to the expenses of the special-effects for this film. Godzilla like I mentioned before was the most expensive Japanese movie ever produced to that date the previous holder was and with distinction or Akira Kurosawas The Seven Samurai by the way this is a great film to if you’ve never seen it you might want to check this one out fantastic.

On opening day when Godzilla king of the monsters 1st open up in theaters located in Tokyo it was previously held by the 7 samurai and Masashi Miyamoto both were released earlier that year and was the 8th best attended film of 1954 in Japan and all it would be 9.6 million people that would actually go to see Godzilla during his 3 theatrical run earning the Toho Company a total of ¥152 million or $2.25 million netting the Toho Company a very nice return in its investment!

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