The Americanization of Godzilla 1985

Written by Barney Buckley

E-Mail Address: bbuckley@triad.rr.com


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Brave New World

Godzilla 1985 is the third Godzilla movie to feature inserted American footage. In terms of the amount of damage done to the original version, the “Burrization” of this film falls somewhere between John Beck’s reworked King Kong vs. Godzilla (the most severely re-edited Godzilla movie) and Godzilla; King of the Monsters! (the most respectful of the full-blown Americanization’s). New World tampered more heavily with the sequence of events, the character relationships, the music soundtrack, and even the story subtext, than did Terry. In the Japanese version, the Japanese prime min- Morse’s 1956 effort; but Godzilla 1985 is far less  appealing  from the u.s. and Russian ambitious by comparison. Less new footage was ambassadors to allow a nuclear strike against shot and there was no attempt to integrate the Godzilla offshore. In the U.S. version, this new material into the story: No body doubles, sequence is condensed into a succinct scene in no telephone calls to the Japanese actors, no which the prime minister rebuffs the button- Iwanaga-Iike interpreter. “When you look at the happy diplomats. There are pros and cons to this finished film, you can tell that Raymond Burr is -on the one hand, the original sequence had a just commenting on the action, he’s not propel- very “Japanese” feel and illustrated the prime ling the story in any way,” said Randel. “His minister’s philosophical dilemma (i.e., which is scenes absolutely don’t need to be there, but the greater evil, Godzilla or the Bomb?), but it somehow it all fits.” was too long and dull for an American audience.

The changes were made to the American release of Godzilla 1985 as compared to the Japanese release of the return of Godzilla 1984.

In the Japanese version, the Japanese prime minister listens to appeals from the u.s. and Russian ambassadors to allow a nuclear strike against Godzilla offshore. In the U.S. version, this sequence is condensed into a succinct scene in which the prime minister rebuffs the button- happy diplomats. There are pros and cons to this -on the one hand, the original sequence had a very “Japanese” feel and illustrated the prime minister’s philosophical dilemma (i.e., which is the greater evil, Godzilla or the Bomb?), but it was too long and dull for an American audience. On the other hand, the u.s. ambassador (Walter Nicholas) had many more lines in the Japanese version, and the u.s. re-editing mercifully cuts out most of his awful acting. Also sliced was a short, but meaningful scene in which the prime minister explains how he convinced the ambassadors  that nukes are not the answer. “I asked them, if Godzilla appeared in Moscow or Washington, would you have the courage to use nuclear weapons? …They finally understood,” he says. In the Japanese version, the meeting between the prime minister and the diplomats takes place after Godzilla’s attack on the nuclear power plant, but in the u.s. version, the meeting takes place first.

The Remaining Story

Godzilla’s rampage is heavily restructured in the u.s. version, with Godzilla first appearing in the harbor, then suddenly in Shinjuku (the business district) and then again advancing toward the center of the city. (In the original version, Godzilla comes ashore at Harumi, then marches to Yurakucho, the Ginza, then Shinjuku).

In the Japanese version, Godzilla picks up a Shin- kansen (bullet train) car and peers inside at the passengers. A shot of a long-haired Christian priest smiling at Godzilla -a bit of intended humor that doesn’t translate well to non-Japanese audiences -was thankfully cut out of the U.S. print. Next, Godzilla walks past the Yurakucho Marion building (former site of the Toho Nichigeki Theater, which Godzilla destroyed in 1954), a structure with a mirrored glass exterior that impressively reflects the monster’s image. Inexplicably, this wonderful SFX shot (which was a tribute to a painting by Yuji Kaida on the cover of the CD Godzilla Legend Chronology 1, released by King Records in 1986) was eliminated.

Later, when Godzilla passes the window of Hayashida’s office, and the sonic-wave amplifier is turned on, New World inserted a piece of footage (taken from later in the film, during Godzilla’s

Early in the Japanese version, Professor Hayashida visits Okumura in the hospital and shows him some photos from Godzilla’s 1954 rampage. This explains how the government knows that Godzilla has shown up again, and why everything is being kept secret. Hayashida’s photos are the only visual reference in the Japanese version to Honda’s Godzilla, whereas the U.S. version includes actual footage from the 1954 film.

In the U.S. version, the reporter Maki tells Naoko that her brother is being confined in a hospital because he saw Godzilla, and the girl rushes to Okumura’s room. But the last part of the scene is omitted, showing Maki and a photographer snapping photos of the brother-sister reunion for a newspaper story. The Japanese version makes it clear that Maki, at first, is only interested in the others for their news value.

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