A Meaningful Monster
The new issue of G-Fan arrived today. Issue #116 features an interview of Shinji Higuchi, co-director of the big hit Shin Godzilla by G-Fan contributor Fabien Mauro in Spain (translated by Daniel Aguilar). This is an important issue. I don’t believe enough has been said about the relationship between Shin Godzilla and Great East Japan earthquake also known as 311. Having survived the events of that dreadful day, the connection between the two was unmistakable. It is at forefront of my thoughts and has been an often repeated topic of my many posts on Shin Godzilla. In this interview, Mr. Mauro asked the question I’ve been wanting to ask since meeting Higuchi-san at the Famous Monsters Convention in Dallas, Texas. His answer affirms my feelings and interpretation of Shin Godzilla.
“We thought: ‘In what way can we put in images all these feelings into a fictional movie?’ To think about it was a matter that took us a very long time. I think that this new Godzilla is the result of all those feelings.”
Higuchi’s words are similar to my thoughts and feelings on that day. The origin of Godzilla is related to 311 as Shodai Godzilla to the atomic bomb. And I believe this is the most important lens through which to watch and interpret Shin Godzilla. Godzilla is more than just a monster. The portion of the interview from G-Fan #116 (Summer 2017, page 12) is reproduced in full below. (G-Fan magazine is published by Daikaiju Enterprises (DKE). J.D. Lees is editor and publisher. Please support and subscribe to G-Fan.)
Fabien Mauro: The 1954 film was inspired by the nuclear bombings of the 40’s and 50’s. Is this one inspired by the 2011 Fukushima incident?
Shinji Higuchi: The truth is that we were completely on our own during that disaster; for the first time in our lives, we experienced an earthquake of huge dimensions, together with the feelings that maybe we were going to die. Then, in a situation like that one, where you don’t have any other option than to believe in the news, comes the explosion of a nuclear power plant. It hits you that maybe something really scary and terrible is going to happen. But you realize that the news is not providing the details of what’s really happening about this terrible incident, it’s in comments scattered in the internet. In that moment, we, the generation that has not experienced the war, for the first time, realized that our lives are actually in the hands of others. We really felt the fear that our own lives could be menaced by the irresponsibility of other people. For us, that represented an experience much more terrifying than the appearing of a kaiju.
Imagine for a moment that there appears a kaiju, or an unexpected agent that wants to kill everyone, like aliens or foreign spies, anyway, some external menace. But much more terrifying than that would be that the people of the government, in whom we’ve trusted until now, the people of our own country, may abandon us, without doing anything to protect our lives. It is really something to fear. In reality, we were not even [i]nformed of the exact nature of the unfolding situation. That was our experience at that time. Against that, we thought: “In what way can we put in images all these feelings into a fictional movie?” To think about it was a matter that took us a very long time. I think that this new Godzilla is the result of all those feelings. But if you ask me what is our message or what we intended to say with all this, I couldn’t explain it well. We just put into images our experiences of that time, and let the audience extract its own conclusions. In the same way that, in the first Godzilla film, director Honda didn’t devote much time talking about the war or the atomic bomb that he experienced, we also wanted to leave those kinds of things in the hands of the audience.