The original classic Godzilla film is getting a spectacular new release, with a digitally restored version on DVD and Blu Ray from the highbrow Criterion Collection. The company plans to release the full version of the original 1954 Japanese production, titled Gojira as well as the 1956 American edition of the movie, Godzilla: King of Monsters, which starred Perry Mason actor Raymond Burr.
Unlike the 27 subsequent sequels and remakes, the original film was a stark and disturbing parable about the dangers of atomic and nuclear powers. The film's darkness came directly from the Japanese experience, which had endured the dropping of atomic weapons on two of its cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, during the final moments of World War II. The film was seen as a way of purging the fear and heartbreak the Japanese people suffered from the atomic nightmare.
Disturbing scenes cut from the original Japanese version have been restored and added to the new version, including one of a terrified mother as she huddles in an alleyway, clutching her small child in the shadow of the fire-breathing creature. In another deleted scene, a fleeing woman sobs, "I barely survived the bombing of Nagasaki. And now this!" Both scenes were thought to be too intense for American viewers during the Cold War years of the 1950s.
The fact that the film's iconic creature would go on to play the hero in countless follow-ups is a testament to the impact the film has made on not only the Japanese people, but the entire world. The film remains even more relevant today, in light of Japan's recent nuclear meltdown at the stricken Fukushima nuclear facility, after March's devastating earthquake and tsunami.