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The Return Of Godzilla

There’s a new Godzilla movie coming out. We’ll look at the history, meaning and re-emergence of Godzilla.

A still from the original 1954 film, "Godizilla." (Toho Co / All Rights Reserved)

A still from the original 1954 film, “Godizilla.” (Toho Co / All Rights Reserved)

The first time Godzilla appeared, in 1954, Japan was still deep in the trauma of nuclear destruction.  Hiroshima and Nagasaki was fresh and terrible memories.  US nuclear tests in the Pacific had just rained more death down on Japanese fishermen.  And here came the monster.  Godzilla.  The great force of nature from the deep.  Swimming ashore.  Stomping through Tokyo.  Raising radioactive hell.  Godzilla came back again and again.  In movies and more.  Now, maybe Fukushima’s nuclear disaster has roused the beast.  It’s back. This hour On Point:  the rise and return of Godzilla.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

August Ragone, expert on Godzilla and Japanese monster movies. Author of “Eiji Tsubaraya: Master of Monsters.” Blogs at “The Good, the Bad and Godzilla.” (@RagoneAugust)

William Tsutsui, incoming president of Hendrix College. Expert on modern Japanese business and economic history. Author of “Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King Of Monsters.” Co-editor of “In Godzilla’s Footsteps: Japanese Pop Culture Icons on the Global Stage.”

From Tom’s Reading List

San Francisco Examiner: New ‘Godzilla’ goes back to roots of Japanese legend — “The new origin story has the monster being awakened by U.S. nuclear testing in the Bikini Atolls in the 1950s, with subsequent nuclear tests being failed attempts to destroy the creature. ‘Just that one thing proves to me that these guys know what they’re doing,’ Ragone says.”

The Good, The Bad And Godzilla: Pondering Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla” — “No matter what happens, be it glorious or apocalyptic, I’m not placing all of my hopes and dreams on this one film. Would I like to behold something as creatively and spiritually successful as Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim’? Yes, of course I would.”

Vulture: What Everyone Who Sees Godzilla Will Be Talking About — “Are you expecting the reboot of Godzilla to feature an endless array of monster-on-monster fight scenes, where two nigh-invincible creatures slug each other with computer-generated punches until one of them finally goes down for the count? If so, you’d better wait for the fourth Transformers film, because Godzilla is so not that movie. In fact, though the press saw Godzilla for the first time today in Los Angeles, they didn’t actually see much of the titular monster, who remains an elusive presence in his very own film. Director Gareth Edwards wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

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